New measures to succeed challenges in the response to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are having an assertive impact, although the crash remains dangerous and unpredictable, the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping and the World Health Organisation (WHO) said after a joint mission to estimate the outbreak.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Pierre Lacroix recently travelled with the Minister of Health, Dr Oly Ilunga Kalenga, to the city of Beni in eastern DRC, the epicenter of the outbreak, where they met health workers, civil society representatives, peacekeeping troops and local authorities.
The United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DRC, MONUSCO, has recently taken an active path to well-armed groups operating in North Kivu, which has given to a period of calm in and around the city of Beni, although some attacks have continued in surrounding villages.
Under the leadership of the Ministry of Health, WHO and partners are also making excellent use of community surveillance, in which community members are encouraged to conduct contact tracing activities in areas that strangers have difficulty accessing. This has contributed to a drop in new cases over the past few weeks, although the situation remains of grave concern.
Ebola response teams have sometimes faced challenges on the ground, with misinformation and doubt due to decades of conflict contributing to a hesitation with some local populations to allow Ebola response teams to vaccinate, conduct contact tracing and perform safe and dignified burials. Community engagement activities have helped address concerns and most local communities have proven supportive and are keenly aware of the dangers of Ebola and the importance of ending the outbreak.