Head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) yesterday, Saturday 12 May. The purpose of his visit is to assess the needs of the response to the latest Ebola virus outbreak first-hand and assist the country in preparing for “all scenarios”.
The latest outbreak to hit the country is taking place in the northeast region of Kinshasa, near the Republic of Congo border. The outbreak has so far caused 18 deaths around the town of Bikoro in Equateur province. The WHO’s head of emergency response, Dr Peter Salama, said one of the biggest challenges facing the organisation is getting aid into the affected area. The region in which the outbreak has occurred is remote and suffers from a lack of infrastructure.
"We know the number of suspected, probable and confirmed cases is significant. We are very concerned and we are planning for all scenarios, including the worst case scenario," he said.
Currently DRC health ministry responders are on-scene in an effort to help those infected. They will be joined by a joint WHO and Unicef team.
Eugene Kabambi is leading the WHO communications team in the DRC. According to AFP, he hopes his team will be able to obtain results swiftly. "We are about to go to Bikoro after this stop at (regional capital) Mbandaka where we have begun the deployment of mobile labs to start analyses of suspected cases," said Kabambi. Health Minister Oly Ilunga has also alerted local residents to the ongoing risk.