The outbreak took place in communities scattered across dense rain forests as well as crowded urban areas, creating logistical challenges.
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, November 18, 2020 – Today marks the end of the 11th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), nearly six months after the first cases were reported in Equateur Province. The outbreak took place in communities scattered across dense rain forests as well as crowded urban areas, creating logistical challenges. These were surmounted due to the leadership of the government and local communities, supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners.
WHO congratulates responders and all those who tirelessly tracked cases, provided treatment, engaged communities and vaccinated more than 40 000 people at high risk and thanks a wide range of partners for their support. Vaccinators used an innovative cold chain storage to keep the Ebola vaccine at temperatures as low as -80 degrees Celsius. The ARKTEK freezers can keep vaccines at very low temperatures in the field for up to a week and enabled responders to vaccinate people in communities without electricity.
“Overcoming one of the world’s most dangerous pathogens in remote and hard to access communities demonstrates what is possible when science and solidarity come together,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “The technology used to keep the Ebola vaccine at super-cold temperatures will be helpful when bringing a COVID-19 vaccine to Africa. Tackling Ebola in parallel with COVID-19 hasn’t been easy, but much of the expertise we’ve built in one disease is transferrable to another and underlines the importance of investing in emergency preparedness and building local capacity.”
The outbreak in western DRC, announced on 1 June 2020, came as another Ebola outbreak in the eastern part of the country was winding down, and finally declared over on 25 June 2020. The two outbreaks were geographically far apart. Genetic sequencing analysis found that they were unrelated. By the end of the current 11th Ebola outbreak in Equateur Province there were 119 confirmed cases, 11 probable, 55 deaths and 75 people who had recovered.
Equateur Province was also the site of the country’s 9th Ebola outbreak, which was overcome in a little over three months in 2018 and had half as many cases reported. However, the response to the 11th Ebola outbreak had to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, which strained resources and created difficulties around the movement of experts and supplies. There were also challenges around the large number of cases in remote communities which were often only accessible by boat or helicopter and at times community resistance hampered response efforts.
Under the leadership of the DRC government, most responders were mobilized locally, and they moved quickly, despite important logistical and access difficulties. Vaccination efforts began just four days after the outbreak was declared. Around 90% of the vaccinators were from local communities. The response also tapped into the expertise of local health workers trained during the two recent outbreaks in the DRC. Responders worked closely with community members to increase understanding of the virus by visiting more than 574 000 households and providing more than 3 million people with pertinent health and safety information.
At the height of the outbreak there were more than 100 WHO experts on the ground, supporting the government’s response. While the 11th outbreak is over, there is a need for continued vigilance and maintaining strong surveillance as potential flare-ups are possible in the months to come. In this regard, WHO and other partners are currently conducting important actions for improving critical operational capacities in Equateur province, including training frontline workers.
The end of this outbreak serves as a reminder that governments and partners must continue to focus attention on other emergencies, even as the fight against COVID-19 persists. There is a need for greater investment in strengthening the core capacities of countries in the implementation of the International Health Regulations. Enhancing preparedness will lead to improved response to threats arising from epidemic prone diseases and result in less social and economic impact.
The consultations are prolonged with President Felix Tshisekedi who are trying to aspire for the top and getting more influence. However, when he went into the agreement or accord with the FCC. The President and leader of UPDS sold his coalition for a title. The CACH, the UPDS-UNC coalition gave way to the FCC with their majority and in the end, would be the underdog in a agreement with them. He wouldn’t be the sole proprietor, but the ceremonial leader of the Republic. Something that has hit his ego and the ideals of Felix himself.
Now its over a year since they made the accord. The FCC-CACH was the altruistic agreement, which benefits the former President Joseph Kabila. Kabila doesn’t need a title, but his coalition of FCC still controls the Parliament and the Cabinet. The arrangement makes sure that the CACH is following the line of the FCC. That is why the consultations are happening. Still, that is a lost enterprise by Tshisekedi.
Tshisekedi sold his party and his vision for the priced possession of the Presidency. I called him a puppet from the get-go. However, it seems like it took time for him to understand that. With the negotiations and the time consuming appointments of cabinet members. It is like the President didn’t think he had to involve and listen to FCC before moving. This is why Tshisekedi will struggle or face harsh problems if he doesn’t follow the will of FCC. Even if the man isn’t initially part of the FCC, but he traded with them and this is the price.
That his trying to play the “Sacred Union” and save the union gimmick. This doesn’t shadow the accord already made and that he will loose out. If he plays to hard. The punishment will come his way. If the FCC has no tears for the fall of Vital Kamerhe. What can happen to the President himself?
Tshisekedi should be worried, that the FCC comes with such a statement as they did. It sends the signal that his not the big-man, but the one carrying the water for the moment. They have a hired mercenary and soldier on the front-line. UPDS-UNC has very little bargain or little leverage, if any. As that was traded for a title and some seats in the cabinet.
Kabila has outsmarted Tshisekedi and he knows it. No matter what road his taking. It will end in tears. There will be no victory for Tshisekedi. If he pushes to far… the FCC would punish him and make life even harder. The consultations are only showing to the public the weakness of this President.
A President who wants to be grand, be great and respected. However, he is forgetting how he got there. He didn’t win the election, neither did his comrades. No, he didn’t win anything, but he bargained himself to a position.
Tshisekedi cannot think he can play this one out differently. There will be no victory for him. He is a puppet. The President is a servant for the former President, which is an ironic place to be in. Kabila still pulling the strings, while Tshisekedi is the one in the limelight. However, to be someone’s pawn at the top must hurt his pride, but he got no choice. That is the deal he made and he got to live with it. Peace.