New Ebola outbreak adds to country's coronavirus and measles

UN allocates $40 million to combat health emergencies in the Democratic Republic of Congo

photo_camera UNICEF/Tremeau - Health workers visit a mother and daughter at the Ebola treatment centre in Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo

Following the recent announcement of a new Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs released $40 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund this week to help address urgent health needs in the African country.

Mark Lowcock made the decision to allocate this amount a few days after the Congolese government confirmed a new outbreak of Ebola in the city of Mbandaka, the capital of the north-western province of Equateur. The African nation faces a long-running outbreak that has killed more than 2,200 people since it began in the eastern provinces of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu in August 2018.

The funds will help strengthen the DRC's existing health services and enable continued support to Ebola survivors along with the establishment of community-based surveillance, warning and rapid response systems. At the same time, it will cover the provision of food, shelter, water and health support, as well as health, education and protection services.

Ebola is not the only problem

In addition to Ebola, the African nation faces a dangerous mix of health and humanitarian crises including the world's largest measles outbreak, large-scale internal displacement of people, insecurity and the coronavirus pandemic. As of 4 June, 3,494 cases of COVID-19 and 74 deaths have been reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mark Lowcock warned the international community that the situation in the African nation is "a clear reminder" that humanitarian crises that were already present before the start of the coronavirus pandemic must not be neglected. "If we lose sight of the situation in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, vulnerable people who are caught in vicious cycles of suffering will not have a chance to fight COVID-19," he said.

Ebola outbreaks are not over

During this year, the Democratic Republic of Congo came close to ending the outbreaks several times. Before declaring an outbreak over, the World Health Organization recommends waiting 42 days after the last confirmed case has tested negative twice in a row for the virus.

The UN humanitarian coordinator explained that continued efforts are needed to prevent further outbreaks. This includes increasing the African nation's capacity to fight Ebola, achieved during this outbreak, and strengthening its health system in line with the Government's plans for universal medical care.

The $40 million allocation for the Democratic Republic of the Congo launched this week is in addition to an earlier disbursement of $30 million. Since its creation, the Central Emergency Response Fund has helped hundreds of millions of people by allocating more than $6.5 billion in 104 countries and territories. "This would not have been possible without the generous and constant support of donors," Lacroix concluded.

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