Ebola Response 'Failing In DR Congo'

Doctors Without Borders hampered by violence in responding to Ebola in Congo

The MSF International president says that people are dying so consistently of Ebola, citizens in the community of Congo are losing trust in doctors to help.

"On the one hand, we have a rapid and large outbreak response with new medical tools such as vaccines and treatments that show promising outcomes when people come early".

The medical aid group has temporarily suspended its operations at two of its centres after attackers set fire to them.

Tackling Ebola in DR Congo was always going to be a huge challenge - decades of conflict mean health services are weak or non-existent, different communities fear one another, and they fear the security services.

Liu criticised the militarisation of the situation, saying on Thursday that police and security forces are trying to force people to comply with health authorities.

In other developments, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) health ministry today reported seven new Ebola cases and responded to concerns about the response, which today included a visit from top World Health Organization (WHO) officials.

This is the second largest Ebola outbreak on record causing a massive global response.

According to the World Health Organization, 569 people have died since the outbreak began seven months ago.

Further to the suspension of its activities in Katwa and Butembo, MSF has maintained its Ebola-related activities in the North Kivu towns of Kayna and Lubéru, as well as its management of two Ebola transit facilities in Ituri province, in the towns of Bwanasura and Bunia. "Communities are not the enemy".

Amid the turmoil, health workers and emergency responders have struggled to win the cooperation of affected communities, many of which are deeply distrustful of the government and a rollout of medical strategies - supervised by security forces - which have clashed with local customs.

"They see relatives sprayed with chlorine and wrapped in plastic bags, buried without ceremony".

"The police and the army are not involved in Ebola response activities and their role has never been to enforce sanitary measures", Jessica Ilunga said. "There is something that needs to be reframed", Liu said.

The failure to overcome the ongoing epidemic has seen it evolve into the second largest ever breakout of its kind, trailing an epidemic between 2013-2016 which killed about 11,300 people in West Africa as it surged through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

A spokeswoman for Congo's Health Ministry said there appeared to be confusion about the security forces' role.

MSF was insisting on security before it returned to its damaged facilities, she said.

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