Kinshasa/ Nairobi/Geneva, 17 May 2018— Communities across Equateur Province need to be alerted to the rising Ebola risk if the spread of the killer disease is to be halted.
This warning from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) comes following news of reports of a confirmed Ebola case in the provincial capital, Mbandaka, in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
“Local volunteers and health workers are the community’s alarm system,” said Ben Adinoyi, IFRC Regional Head of Health and Care, who is currently based in Kinshasa. “They are our eyes and ears on the ground. They are critical to the early identification and containment of new cases.
“They need to be activated across the province and even beyond. If we don’t, then the virus may spread too far and too quickly.”
At least 23 people have died of suspected haemorrhagic fever in an outbreak that was first confirmed on 8 May in Bikoro health zone, a remote part of the country. Three of those cases are confirmed to be Ebola. Fears of a flare up are mounting as cases have spread across three different health zones.“
A Red Cross team of experts is on the ground in Equateur Province providing training and support to local volunteers. They have brought essential supplies like stretchers, chlorine disinfectant, safe burial kits, informational posters and other supplies to support local communities and health centres.
Critically, more than 110 Red Cross volunteers in Bikoro and Mbandaka are alerting communities as well as disinfecting houses where cases have been suspected. The volunteers are also ready to provide safe and dignified burials if needed. The effective management of dead bodies is a crucial component of an effective Ebola response.
“DRC Red Cross has responded to all past eight Ebola outbreaks in the country and has a strong, in-country network of experts,” said Grégoire Mateso, President of the DRC Red Cross. “They are already in the communities and stand ready to expand awareness-raising, meticulous surveillance, infection control and prevention in areas that are at risk of further spread of the virus.
IFRC has released more than 216,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to bring supplies and personnel to the affected area and is preparing to launch an international emergency appeal to increase its support to the DRC Red Cross.
In Kinshasa: Dr Ben Adinoyi, +254 731990076, email@example.com
In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe +254 731 688 613, firstname.lastname@example.org , (@ishimwee)
In Geneva: Laura Ngo-Fontaine, +41 79 570 4418, email@example.com