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Address Ebola in DRC now

Thursday April 4 2019

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The deadly Ebola disease is gnawing at the Democratic Republic of Congo with the rest of the world seemingly largely unconcerned.

The latest reports indicate that the number of confirmed cases in eastern DRC has exceeded 1,000, making the current outbreak the second-largest ever recorded.

More than 629 people have died since the first case of the latest epidemic was reported in August in Bikoro, a market town in eastern DRC.

According to a leading aid group, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Congo has reached a “tragic milestone”.

IRC says an optimistic outlook would predict the epidemic lasting another six months — but, realistically, it could be another year. The harm done by then is too grave to contemplate.

Insecurity and a shaky government in the vast Central African country have added to the agony.


Health workers’ operations have been hampered and treatment centres attacked by gangs and infectious patients let out.

As if that is not bad enough, Ebola denial is widespread. A survey in the DRC suggests a quarter of people in Beni and Butembo, the regions worst affected by the outbreak, do not believe the virus exists.


Health workers say many people refuse vaccines, resist treatment and conceal symptoms.

During the West African epidemic of 2014-16, borders were closed, flights suspended and patients airlifted to Europe and America for treatment.

Indeed, the outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia dominated the headlines on major global news channels.

Reportage on the DRC tragedy, however, is lukewarm, with no more than occasional updates of the casualty figures.

Ebola is a nightmare no one wants to be associated with.

The Congolese are in deep agony and the international community must now step on both pedals to stem the spread of the monster. A threat to the Congolese is a threat to humanity.