International Medical Corps Is Fighting Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
In late July 2018, an outbreak of Ebola in a northwest province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was officially declared over. Yet on August 1 of that year, the government confirmed new cases of the deadly virus in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, roughly 750 miles from the earlier outbreak. Since then, the outbreak has grown to become the second-largest ever, exceeded in size only by the 2014 outbreak in West Africa. On July 17, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, which heightens international focus on stopping the spread of the deadly virus. In mid-August of 2019, the government confirmed that cases had emerged in a third province, South Kivu.
Throughout the outbreaks, International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team (ERT) has continued to work with the DRC Ministry of Health to help with treatment, infection prevention, screening and training.
As part of our efforts to build local response capacity, we built, opened and operated an Ebola Treatment Center (ETC) in Makeke (now transitioned to a hospital for the community), operated an Ebola Transit Center in Beni and are currently operating an ETC in Mangina, the initial epicenter of the outbreak. In addition to providing treatment, vaccination and contact tracing, International Medical Corps has constructed nearly 50 screening-and-referral units throughout the region. We remain in close contact with the Ministry of Health, local health officials and the international community to identify any additional support we can provide.
International Medical Corps has extensive experience and expertise in stopping the spread of Ebola, having responded in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali and Guinea-Bissau in the wake of the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic. We served as a key implementation partner for the World Health Organization, fielding a team of more than 1,500 and treating nearly 460 Ebola-positive patients in our five treatment centers. We helped host governments prevent further transmission of the virus, provided critical training to frontline health workers—and, importantly, stayed after the outbreak to continue to build local health systems and provide mental health and psychosocial counseling to those affected by the deadly disease.
We will build on our breadth and depth of experience in DRC, where we’ve provided vital health services since 1999, as we continue to support the Ministry of Health’s efforts to contain the Ebola virus.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s happening now?
In early August 2018, one week after an earlier Ebola outbreak was officially declared over, new cases of the Ebola virus were confirmed in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by the DRC’s Ministry of Health. Since then, the outbreak has grown to be the second-largest in history, leading to a declaration by the World Health Organization of the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
What are the potential consequences?
North Kivu and Ituri provinces are located in northeastern DRC, along the border with Uganda and Rwanda, increasing the chances that the virus could spread beyond borders. Security issues have further complicated efforts to contain the deadly virus, as the provinces have been plagued by ongoing conflict for the last 20 years.
How is International Medical Corps responding?
International Medical Corps’ team in the DRC is conducting disease-treatment, surveillance and infection-prevention activities in the provinces, as well as providing training to healthcare staff. International Medical Corps also is distributing essential infection-prevention and hygiene supplies to health facilities—including handwashing stations, personal protective equipment (PPE), water basins, liquid soap and jerry cans—to ensure that trained staff have the resources they need to prevent the transmission of disease. We remain in close contact with the Ministry of Health, local health officials and the international community to identify any additional support we can provide. Additional International Medical Corps team members remain on standby in Kinshasa and Mbandaka to deploy as necessary.
Does International Medical Corps have experience with Ebola?
We have extensive experience and expertise in stopping the spread of Ebola, having responded in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali and Guinea-Bissau in the wake of the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic, which killed thousands of people. With a team of more than 1,500 staff, we treated a total of nearly 460 Ebola-positive patients in our five treatment units, helped governments prevent further transmission of the virus, provided critical training to front-line health workers—and, importantly, stayed after the outbreak to continue to build local health systems as well as provide mental health and psychosocial counseling to those affected by the deadly disease.
What we know about fighting Ebola
We talk with Dr. Adam Levine, the technical lead of International Medical Corps’ Ebola response, about the challenges facing those preparing to respond to the rapidly brewing emergency in Democratic Republic of Congo.READ MORE
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After 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths, the West Africa Ebola outbreak—the largest and deadliest in history—officially ended in late 2015 when Guinea was finally declared Ebola-free after two years of fighting the virus. One of the few international NGOs to treat patients afflicted with the virus at the source of the 2014 outbreak in West Africa, we worked in all three high-transmission countries—Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia—and cared for nearly 460 Ebola-positive patients through five Ebola treatment facilities.Read more about our response