The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared on Monday the end of the last Ebola outbreak detected in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in the province of North Kivu, in the east of the country.
In a statement, the African delegation of the WHO has detailed that this Monday marks three months since the first case of Ebola detected in North Kivu, an outbreak that began in February, nine months after another was declared over in the same region.
WHO, which congratulated DRC health authorities and health workers on the ground, noted that during this time, eleven cases and one probable case have been confirmed, six people have died and six others have recovered from the disease.
“Great credit must be given to local health workers and national authorities for their prompt response, tenacity, expertise and hard work, which have brought the outbreak under control,” said WHO Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.
The response to the outbreak, the twelfth in DRC, was coordinated between the North Kivu Department of Health and WHO partners. In this regard, the UN agency noted that the fight against the outbreak “has often been hampered by insecurity caused by armed groups and social unrest, which at times limited the movement of workers.”
“The area where the outbreak has been recorded has a highly mobile population, as people move around for work or to visit family and friends,” explained WHO, which also expressed concern about the “possible cross-border spread of the outbreak,” as the town of Butembo is about 150 kilometers from the Ugandan border. “However, due to the effective response, the outbreak has been limited to North Kivu province,” it has congratulated.
Finally, WHO has reiterated the need for “continued vigilance” in view of the possibility of further outbreaks in the coming months. In addition, it has shown its commitment to the DRC to fight other public health problems afflicting the country, such as measles and cholera outbreaks, the COVID-19 pandemic and a weakened health system.
For his part, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus congratulated all those involved in the response to the Ebola outbreak in DRC and, in a statement, stressed the need for “vigilance” to prevent the return of the disease and to meet other health challenges.
In his view, the end of the outbreak is a statement of “professionalism, sacrifice and collaboration” by hundreds of “true health heroes,” particularly the Congolese.
The 10th Ebola outbreak in DRC, which took place between 2018 and 2020, was the deadliest, with 3,481 cases, 2,299 deaths and 1,162 survivors.