The World Health Organization has declared the most recent and fatal Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a global emergency. It was just days ago that researchers were able to confirm a case of an individual being affected by the virus in the Congo city of Goma that is close to the border of Rwanda.
Till date since the outbreak started in August last year, the virus has caused the death o of over 1,600 people while over 2,500 have been diagnosed with the virus which was dominant in the war-torn North Kivu and Ituri provinces of the DRC.
“It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement Wednesday. “Extraordinary work has been done for almost a year under the most difficult circumstances. We all owe it to these responders — coming from not just WHO but also government, partners and communities — to shoulder more of the burden.”
The Who has classified this latest Ebola virus outbreak to be the second most deadly one after the epidemic that occurred between 2014 to 2016 in which 11,310 dies and 28,616 people got infected in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
An international emergency is defined by the WHO as “an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response.”
Tedors said that there is little threat of the spreading virus outside of the area even though he did say that the threat of the virus spreading within the region identified still remains high.
On multiple earlier occasions, the WHO had restrained from naming the latest Ebola breakout as an international health emergency which was criticized by many health experts because they argued that the virus could spread across borders.
This is only the fifth time ever that the WHO had declared an outbreak to be a global health emergency.
The WHO and other agencies working in the affected regions have been making use of an experimental vaccine developed by New Jersey-based Merck to try and prevent the virus from spreading. So far, the agencies have been able to immunize more than 140,000 people in the DRC. Fears about the virus potential spreading across borders have been expressed for months by neighboring countries. The regional Ebola risk is “very high”, the WHO has said.
A confirmed case of Ebola in Goma – with a population of 2 million, was reported days befor the WHO declaration. The organization said that Goma borders Rwanda and is “the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world”.
The response effort to the current Ebola crisis is being significantly hampered because of a $54 million funding gap.
According to the WHO, the hemorrhagic fever caused by the Ebola virus “is a rare but severe, often fatal illness in humans” that kills almost 50 per cent of the people who get affected by the virus. Ebola causes a high fever, hemorrhaging in some cases and even death.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)