The WHO is preparing for a major Ebola outbreak
The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently trying to contain an outbreak of Ebola virus with partners and the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). 34 Ebola cases have been reported in the region in the past five weeks, including two laboratory-confirmed cases. WHO believes Ebola is the likely cause of death in 18 recent deaths. The province of Equateur, which is largely difficult to access, is a high-risk area.
A multidisciplinary team of experts from WHO, the local health authorities and the MSF arrived on May 10, 2018 in Bikoro, a small town in the province of Equateur. The team is currently collecting more data to analyze the extent and causes of the epidemic. Ebola treatment centers are to be set up in the next few days. From there, patients are to be cared for, mobile laboratories set up and further cases of Ebola detected. The WHO is also planning a vaccination campaign with the national authorities.
General Director of WHO on site
"I myself am on my way to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to assess the needs first hand," reports the Director General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a WHO press release on the current situation. The Director General would like to take stock of the situation personally and ensure the support of the national health authorities.
Can the WHO prevent a major outbreak?
"I am in contact with the Minister of Health and have assured him that we will do everything we can to quickly stop the spread of Ebola," said Dr. Tedros. He mobilized all partners to send more personnel, equipment and accessories to the area. WHO supports the government of the DRC in coordinating the auxiliary troops.
The extent is still unclear
"It is too early to assess the extent of this outbreak," explains Dr. Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director General for Emergency Response and Response. However, the general situation suggests that ending this outbreak will be a serious challenge. "It will be tough and it will be expensive. We have to be prepared for all scenarios, ”Salama sums up the situation. To make matters worse, according to Salama, three helpers are already showing Ebola symptoms.
Moderate risk for surrounding countries
The WHO currently assesses the risks for the surrounding countries as moderate. "The WHO has already alerted these countries and is working with them on border surveillance and preparing for possible outbreaks," the press release said. No travel or trade restrictions have been issued to or with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The surgical plan for the coming days
Two mobile laboratories are to be set up on May 12. Four mobile isolation units, each with five beds, are currently being installed on site in order to be able to treat infected people in an isolated area. In addition, an airlift will be set up, which is to last for three months and through which experts will quickly provide equipment and materials for use.
The WHO released a million dollars from its emergency fund to initiate the rapid response. Based on the current assessment, the estimated budget for international deployment is $ 18 million for a three-month operation. The English trust "Wellcome Trust" and the British Department for International Development announced a pledge of up to £ 3m to support the rapid response to the outbreak. (vb)