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The Optimist

View of the shoreline near the port of Bandundu, Democratic Republic of Congo

Global partners respond to new Ebola outbreak

On July 24, the World Health Organization declared that an Ebola outbreak in the northwest region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was over. Just a week later, however, a new and unrelated Ebola outbreak was discovered in the DRC’s North Kivu Province.

WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, immediately flew to North Kivu to assess the situation, and he delivered a candid statement when he returned. “I was worried before I went to eastern #DRC, and even more worried when I left,” Tedros said via Twitter. “This is a very dangerous #Ebola outbreak because of the lack of access we have to the areas we need to get to, due to the active conflict there.”

North Kivu remains a hotly contested territory in one of sub-Saharan Africa’s longest-running conflicts. The peace process is fragile, and numerous armed militias operate throughout the region. Two decades of civil conflict have disrupted the health system and fueled frequent infectious disease outbreaks.

That is why the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on August 10 provided WHO with $2 million in fast, flexible funding to accelerate its response to the North Kivu outbreak. Rapid action is essential to identify and isolate those who may be infected and immunize potential contacts with an experimental Ebola vaccine. As Dr. Tedros noted, “If we work hard and fight hard and we try more aggressively than the virus – which is a very aggressive virus – I know we can contain it as soon as possible.”

Read more in STAT News