- Many cases are not being counted due to insecurity and mistrust;
- The international community is losing the fight against Ebola. This rapid rise in cases shows the need for a complete reset of this response;
- The IRC continues to lead in infection, prevention and control in the hardest hit areas.
Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo , June 3, 2019 — Today, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Ministry of Health announced that the number of people infected with Ebola in North Kivu has surpassed 2,000, a more than tripling of the daily case rate when compared to time taken for the outbreak to reach 1,000. As violence and insecurity continue to hamper daily operations and mistrust prevents people from seeking care, these numbers are likely an underestimate and not a realistic picture of the number of cases out there.
Tariq Riebl, Emergency Response Director at the International Rescue Committee said, “The fact that we have hit 2,000 persons infected with Ebola so quickly demonstrates that this outbreak is spreading faster when it should be slowing. We are now seeing eight to 20 cases recorded each day, a number that is very likely an underestimate. Just a few months ago, we were only seeing three to five cases a day. To see such a spike in cases at this stage in the outbreak means a drastic change is required. This response requires a total and complete reset.
“Community members do not trust medical staff and aid organizations, and are not coming in to health facilities when they show Ebola symptoms. In Butembo, the current epicenter of the outbreak, doctors and nurses are being threatened and health centers attacked regularly, hampering the response and forcing the IRC and other aid agencies to frequently suspend operations. To say that things are not going well is an understatement. The ‘scale up activation’ declared last week by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee is a step in the right direction. Now, we need to focus on addressing the major issues of this response that have been impacting our ability to put an end to the outbreak.”
Whilst some of our work has been disrupted in the Butembo and Katwa area, the IRC continues to support 43 facilities in the area with visits from medical staff, as well as supports several hundred staff from the Ministry of Health who work at triage posts and deliver vital supplies to keep health workers safe. In addition, we are supporting facilities in Beni, which has also seen a recent increase in cases, and in Goma, to ensure that the city is prepared should Ebola spread. On top of this, the IRC is working with women and children to support them with psycho-social care and other specialized activities to help them deal with the exacerbated impact that comes from an Ebola outbreak.
With more than 13 million people in need of aid, DRC is one of the world’s most complex, chronic and long-standing humanitarian crises. The IRC has been working in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996 responding to the humanitarian crisis in the east. It has since evolved into one of the largest providers of humanitarian assistance and post-conflict development, with life-saving programming in health, economic recovery, women’s and children protection, and livelihoods.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 26 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.