The ten-month-old Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has claimed over a thousand lives, prompting United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to bring support of “the whole UN system” into combating the spread of the deadly virus.
On Wednesday, Mr. Guterres expressed concern over the growing number of new Ebola cases in the DRC, committing UN support for efforts to end the ongoing outbreak.
Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, said in a statement on behalf of the UN chief, “With important shifts in the response now being implemented, the Secretary-General has emphasized his commitment to a collective UN-wide approach, both in Kinshasa, where the UN is led by his special representative, and in the areas affected by the virus, where the response is led by WHO [World Health Organization], all in close liaison with Congolese leaders both in Kinshasa and eastern DRC.”
Mr. Guterres also expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and said that the full involvement and engagement of local people is the key to control the spread of the infection. He also urged all Congolese leaders to come and work together in order to tackle the outbreak.
The UN chief also applauded the bravery of security, medical and humanitarian workers for putting their lives on the line in such a challenging environment that is marked by conflict and insecurity. The DRC has been facing attacks on healthcare centers and facilities. The chief also applauded medical works for their vaccinating over 100,000 people and saving hundreds of lives who contracted the infection.
In the meantime, amidst community distrust and continuing violence, the WHO has recommended new Ebola Vaccination Guidelines to combat the virus.
The WHO has said that in spite of using a highly efficacious vaccine, there has been a surge in new Ebola cases due to frequent violence, which has prevented medical works from providing vaccines.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “We know that vaccination is saving lives in this outbreak but we still face challenges in making sure the contacts of every case receive the vaccine as soon as possible.” He added, “These recommendations account for ongoing insecurity and incorporate feedback from experts and from the affected communities that will help us continue to adapt the response.”