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As Ebola cases reach 1000 a dramatic shift is needed to put communities first
As the number of Ebola cases in Democratic Republic of Congo reaches 1,000 people, Oxfam highlights some of the challenges facing the humantarian response that is working to stem the disease.
Oxfam’s Humanitarian Programme Manager in DRC, Tamba Emmanuel Danmbi-saa, said: “It’s extremely worrying that nine months after it began, Ebola is still not under control. The recent attacks on health facilities in Butembo, one of the worst affected places, are having a massive impact. Humanitarian access has deteriorated, as has the ability of people to get the healthcare they need. Community trust in the response is almost non-existent.
“The growing presence of police and military is fanning the flames and making many people even more frightened. While there is an imperative to protect staff in the field, using security forces during the Ebola response should be done with extreme caution. If communities feel that they are being coerced into vaccination or decontamination they lose trust in the response. Building that trust is vital to stopping the spread of the disease.
“The current response is failing the people it is supposed to be helping as focusing purely on the medical side is not enough to contain the epidemic. Health workers and other responders must prioritize the people affected, not only the disease, and start putting them first. There needs to be a real change in the response to end the epidemic as soon as possible.”
• The Ebola Epidemic is still spreading in the North Kivu and in the region of Ituri where a confirmed case has been confirmed on Wednesday March 20th in Bunia, the second-largest city in eastern Congo. According to latest figures released by the World Health Organisation, the number of Ebola cases in Eastern DRC has now reached 1009 and 629 people have died: https://www.who.int/ebola/situation-reports/drc-2018/en/
• Oxfam fears that more violence will occur in the upcoming local elections scheduled for March 30, which have been postponed since December.
• Oxfam’s Ebola response is focussed on public health promotion and supporting community lead solutions to break the chain of transmission. We are also providing safe, clean water in affected communities and improving the infrastructures of health centres. Since the outbreak began, we have reached over 367,616 people in Beni, Ituri and Goma.
• Images available here: https://wordsandpictures.oxfam.org.uk/pages/search.php?search=%21collection36053&k=bd5effe142
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