The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday declared the 10th Ebola outbreak in the East Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over, after almost two years of struggle.
WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo, disclosed this on its official twitter account @WHOAFRO.
“The 10th Ebola outbreak in DRC was declared over today!
“Here is a look back over the journey to bring this epidemic to an end since it first began almost two years ago,’’ it said.
In a statement posted on its website, the UN health agency said the DRC Ministry of Health made the announcement after no new cases were reported 42 days since the last patient tested negative for the virus.
“The outbreak started in August 2018. There were 3,470 cases, 2,287 lives lost and 1,171 survivors, making it the second-deadliest after the one in West Africa that lasted from 2014 to 2016.
“In a context of insecurity, the efforts to halt the 10th Ebola outbreak in the DRC were particularly challenging.
“Emergency teams from WHO, partner organisations, the DRC Ministry of Health and communities made huge efforts to end the outbreak.’’
The statement quoted, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, as saying: “During the almost two years we fought the Ebola virus, WHO and partners helped strengthen the capacity of local health authorities to manage outbreaks.
“The DRC is now better, smarter and faster at responding to Ebola and this is an enduring legacy which is supporting the response to COVID-19 and other outbreaks.”
WHO said the gains made during this response were already being applied to other public health emergencies in the DRC.
“Many of the key approaches in tackling Ebola such as contact tracing, infection prevention and control and isolating patients and suspected cases are at the core of COVID-19 response in the country, where more than 6,000 cases have been confirmed so far.
“WHO is supporting countries in Africa as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates in the region. As well as providing equipment and expertise to support the response.
“The agency is also helping countries to minimise disruption to essential health services and to restore a full range of services as lockdowns are eased to protect people from preventable diseases like malaria,’’ it said.
Meanwhile, Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director- General, in a statement, said the agency was proud to have worked under the leadership of the Government of the DRC to bring the outbreak under control.
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“This has only been possible, thanks to the service and sacrifice of thousands of Congolese health workers, working side by side with colleagues from WHO and many other partners. I salute them all.
“Many of the public health measures that have been successful in stopping Ebola are the same measures that are now essential for suppressing COVID-19:
“Finding every case, isolating every case, testing every case, caring for every case and relentless contact tracing; these are the measures that must remain the backbone of the response in every country. There are no short-cuts.
“But Ebola and COVID-19 are only two of the health threats facing the people of DRC, and many other low- and middle-income countries.
“That’s why WHO is committed to continuing to work with the people and government of DRC to strengthen its health system and support it on the road towards universal health coverage,’’ Mr Ghebreyesus said.