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MSF is raising the alarm: the largest Ebola epidemic in the country has raged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is out of control.
The epidemic broke out in the Republic of the Congo seven months ago. So far there have been over 900 cases and 600 people have already died. The disease is out of control and 40 percent of those infected have died since early 2019.
Main problem distrust
According to Doctors Without Borders, the main problem is distrust. The medical means are given to combat Ebola comprehensively, for example through vaccinations. But a lot of people distrust these strategies, do not come to treatment centers and die at home from the disease, according to the aid organization.
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Problem of violence
Just last week, MSF had to stop working in the most affected areas of Katwa and Butambo in North Kivu after being violently attacked. In February there were dozens of security incidents related to the fight against Ebola.
What are the causes of the problems?
A lot of money flows to the Ebola region to fight the disease. The area is steeped in violence, neglected, and basic health care is lacking. Locals generally don't trust government programs.
Conspiracy theories are rampant. Elections in the country were officially postponed due to the outbreak of the epidemic, and this strengthened the rumor that measures against Ebola had been pushed to control the population. The police and the military are supposed to force people to take part in the measures - and this also discourages the locals.
What Do Doctors Without Borders Demand?
The organization first calls for an end to the violence. No coercion should be used to find patients and to detoxify homes. Then those affected and their families would have to be involved in the treatment of the disease. Third, more vaccines would have to be available so that more people could be vaccinated against Ebola.
Take fears seriously
Ebola triggers fear and leads to isolation of patients, their families and health workers. Dealing with the disease must be centered on the patient and involve the communities.
How is Ebola transmitted?
Ebola is a virus. It is highly contagious because of body fluids: sperm, urine, feces, saliva or vomit. It does not spread through the air like other diseases and therefore does not spread as quickly as, for example, the Spanish flu in its time.
Too lethal to spread quickly
Others can only be infected when the symptoms appear. Then the condition of those affected deteriorates very quickly and half of those infected die.
In the middle of the conflict area
Ebola is generally easy to contain and the previous epidemics have been slowed down. It's different this time because the epidemic is now in the middle of a battle zone. In the province of North Kivu, conflicts over land ownership and resources are smoldering, which are always erupting. Around the city of Beni alone, a thousand or more civilians have been victims of murder and homicide in the past five years, and more than 250,000 have been displaced. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)