In response to the World Health Organization’s declaration of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a ‘public health emergency of international concern’, Oxfam’s Country Director in the DRC, Corinne N’Daw, said:
“This decision by the World Health Organization (WHO) is a major step in attracting the world’s attention to the Ebola crisis in DRC.
“We welcome their recommendation to prioritize community engagement, as we know that getting the trust of communities affected by the virus has been a massive barrier and focussing primarily on a medical approach hasn’t been working.
“We echo the WHO’s call for authorities to allow borders to remain open, so people can cross safely at official points where they can be screened for Ebola. Given the intense conflict in the region, there’s a huge risk of people crossing illegally if borders are closed. Millions of people are also dependent on cross border trade and if this lifeline is cut off it would only generate more anger and distrust towards the Ebola response.
“This is also a crucial opportunity to strengthen the public health response and to respond to broader humanitarian needs in the country. Any new funding must be accompanied by stricter accountability to ensure that everyone is working effectively together to end this dreadful outbreak, that has claimed the lives of so many Congolese people.”