The second largest Ebola outbreak in history is currently taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to a new report, there are more than 900 cases of Ebola in the Congo, causing lots of uncertainty in the region as health officials sluggishly meet people’s needs despite newer treatment options that should be available across the nation, according to AXIOS. The country is also experiencing violent conflict, which adds an extra layer of distress to those impacted by the growing epidemic.
This is the second largest Ebola outbreak on record causing a massive international response. Unfortunately, as the first epidemic to hit the Congo, health aides are experiencing the violence overtaking the area that remains in conflict and makes response efforts even more complicated. At the end of February, an Ebola treatment center was partially destroyed in Butembo and its township, Katwa.
Violence in the Congo as Ebola Surges
Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) held a press conference on Thursday explaining the long-term implications if the outbreak isn’t brought under control. One major problem MSF is currently facing is the violent attacks happening to Ebola treatment centers. According to TheScientist, last week two major centers in the heart of the epidemic had to temporarily close down due to violence.
Although citizens in Congo may be rushing to treatment centers, more than 40 percent of people who have contracted Ebola are dying at home rather than in hospitals. Another issue doctors are running into is that nearly 50 percent of the cases had no direct previous link to the disease.
The MSF International president says that people are dying so consistently of Ebola, citizens in the community of Congo are losing trust in doctors to help.
“On the one hand, we have a rapid and large outbreak response with new medical tools such as vaccines and treatments that show promising outcomes when people come early,” said Joanne Liu, MSF International president, to AXIOS. “On the other hand, people with Ebola are dying in their communities, and do not trust the Ebola response enough to come forward.”
This outbreak was announced by the World Health Organization on August 1, 2018 and has totaled 574 confirmed deaths since then. This Ebola epidemic comes after many outbursts in the past years, including those that occurred from 2014-2016 epidemic which resulted in over 28,000 people on the continent alone. Before then, Ebola outbreaks were sporadic and mostly confined to small villages in Central Africa.