How International Medical Corps is helping the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the fight against Ebola
On August 1, 2018, an outbreak of Ebola on the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) began that grew 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.
After almost two years, thanks to the persistence and skill of our staff and other healthcare workers in the region, the end of the outbreak in this region was officially declared over on June 25, 2020.
However, on June 1, 2020, the government had announced an outbreak near Mbandaka in Équateur province, roughly 750 miles west of the outbreak on the country’s eastern edge. International Medical Corps deployed a rapid response team to support response efforts by the DRC Ministry of Health and the WHO, and ran three Ebola Treatment Center (ETCs) in the region. We also helped with treatment, infection prevention and control, screening, training and capacity-building. Thankfully, the end of this outbreak—the country’s 11th—was officially declared over on November 18, 2020.
We are now supporting the country during a 90-day period of heightened surveillance, continuing our efforts to screen for suspected cases and prevent a resurgence of this deadly disease, famous for its unpredictability.
As part of our efforts to build local response capacity in the east, we built, opened and operated an ETC in Makeke (now transitioned to a hospital for the community); operated Ebola Transit Centers in Beni and Mambassa; and operated an ETC in Mangina, the initial epicenter of the outbreak. In addition to providing treatment, vaccination and contact tracing, International Medical Corps constructed nearly 100 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, should future outbreaks occur.
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.