from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA – THE death toll in the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has now surpassed 1 500 mark.
More than 2 200 victims have been infected since its onset last August in the eastern region of Kivu.
Lack of security in the locations where the virus has spread, which are also some of the country’s most densely populated areas, and limited community engagement in the response have fuelled the spread of the epidemic.
“Ebola will not be eliminated until local communities can play a more active role in the response,” said Benoit Munsch, country director of the non-governmental organisation, CARE, in DRC.
The virus has also spread from DRC into neighboring Ugandan the past few weeks.
Initially, a five-year-old boy was confirmed positive and died later, before his brother and grandmother later succumbed.
As families continue to flee the ongoing violence in DRC towards neighboring countries, the risk of a regional outbreak is still present.
The outbreak of the deadly virus is the second worst in history following an epidemic that killed over 11 000 people in West Africa between 2013and 2016.
DRC is one of the world’ poorest countries and has been in turmoil for decades.
In addition to poverty and high unemployment rates, the country is suffering from several internal armed conflicts.
“While combating Ebola is a priority, that focus should not mask the enormous multiple needs in the country,” Munsch said.
DRC shares borders with Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic (CAR), Congo Brazzaville, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, countries that have heightened alertness over possible Ebola outbreak.
– CAJ News