Ebola Still Threatening the Democratic Republic of Congo

KINSHASA – When last Missions Box News reported on the reemergence of the Ebola virus on August 20th, the estimated number of deaths over the previous 10 days had risen from “at least 20” to 55. Yesterday, September 17th, UNICEF issued their latest Ebola Situation Report indicating that the death toll has reached 97.

As of September 16th, 111 of the 142 reported cases of the Ebola virus have been confirmed. Over 2,100 contacts of those with reported cases are now under surveillance as part of the ring-fencing strategy to contain the deadly disease.

The instances of the outbreak have now been recorded in seven of the health zones in Nord-Kiva province and in the Mandima zone of the Ituri province.

While the WHO has been blessed with progress in the Nord-Kivu zone of Mandima where the current outbreak originated in early August, the virus has also spread to the city of Butembo.

One of the major difficulties in Mandima has been tracking down the persons who had been in contact with those known to be infected because of the fluid movement of the rural population.

Butembo now presents an entirely different matter. According to Dr. Gianfrance Rotigliano, A UNICEF representative in The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), “Butembo is an important commercial city and has nearly one million inhabitants. So there is a real risk the virus could spread quickly in such a large population center.”

UNICEF and its partners have deployed a team of specialists to provided information, training, and sensitization for local social workers, journalists, religious, and community leaders. There are cultural sensitivities to the treatment regimen that, unless addressed, pose a significant opportunity for the disease to spread faster and farther.

Pray for the wisdom for the doctors and for the safety of the people of the DRC.

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