The Ebola epidemic affecting the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since August 1 has already become the worst in the history of this country and the other in the world after which it hit West Africa in 2014-2016. According to the figures from the Congolese Ministry of Health this Sunday, the current outburst has already reached 489 cases and 280 deaths that exceeded the epidemic in 1976 when 318 people were ill and responded to the number of deaths in thereafter.
The current outburst was declared in the Nordkivu region and has now been extended to Ituri, where various armed groups have been in operation for decades in an infinite conflict, which makes access to health professionals to many. places, as well as their mobility. "The circumstances in this epidemic are different and make it very complicated. My feeling is that if things do not change, it will last between six and nine months," said Luis Encinas, a Spanish nurse and Ebola expert at Medico's Fronteras, who returned three weeks ago from the affected area.
Just on Thursday there were two armed attacks that killed 18 civilians in Beni, very close to the epicenter of the outbreak, allegedly committed by the radical Islamic Military Allied Democratic Forces (ADF, according to its acronym in English). Armed events and kidnappings are very common in the area. In November, the Army and intervention brigades of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo launched an offensive to attempt to destroy the camps in this armed group leading a rebel in this country and in Uganda for 23 years. .
After the epidemic's statement, the government and the international community reacted relatively quickly and mobilized staff and resources to the affected area. For the first time, the use of several experimental treatments is combined with a wide vaccination campaign that has reached about 42,000 people, according to Congolese health minister Oly Ilunga last week. Despite this, many of the community's refusal to declare cases, vaccinate or transfer their patients to treatment centers complicates only complications.
"The epidemic is branching," adds Encinas, "with hidden transmission chains. We are not in the 2014 epidemic that occurred in an area where people moved a lot from country to country, but it would be disastrous if it ran to Goma or to South Sudan refugee camps. "In addition to the uncertainties and shortcomings in working with local communities deriving from the refusal of the population to receive healthcare, MSFs put three additional main factors:" There is a high population density in cities such as Beni and Butembo has never had an epidemic of this disease here and the health system is very fragile, weakened, which means, for example, that the standards for the protection of healthcare professionals are below acceptable minimum conditions. A total of 44 healthcare professionals have already been infected and 12 have died, according to Ministry's speech.
The worst Ebola epidemic in history was declared at the end of March 2014 in Guinea and spread rapidly to Liberia and Sierra Leone. After two years and after reaching the countries of Mali and Nigeria, as well as isolated cases in Senegal, Spain – where Nurse Teresa Romero was infected – and the United States, ended in 2016 with a total of 28,646 infections and 11,323 deaths.