Fighting Ebola Across the DRC
When the April 2018 outbreak in Équateur, the country’s ninth, was declared over in July of that year, a resurgence was close behind. On August 1, 2018, a new outbreak was declared in the country’s eastern provinces that would grow to become the second-largest Ebola outbreak ever, exceeded in size only by the 2014 outbreak in West Africa. 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.
Celebration was muted, however, at the beginning of June of that year the government had announced a new outbreak—the country’s 11th—back in in Équateur province. As with other outbreaks, International Medical Corps deployed a rapid response team to support response efforts by the DRC Ministry of Health and the WHO, and ran Ebola Treatment Centers (ETCs) in the region. We also helped with treatment, infection prevention and control, screening, training and capacity-building. After this outbreak was officially declared over on November 18, 2020, we continued supporting regional health authorities during a 90-day period of heightened surveillance.
When the 10th outbreak in the east was officially declared over, 3,470 cases had been reported (including 3,324 confirmed and 153 probable cases), with 2,287 deaths and 1,171 survivors. Then the DRC’s 11th outbreak was declared over, it had sickened 130 people (119 confirmed and 11 probable) and killed 55, according to DRC Ministry of Health data.
Now, in the east, we’re seeing yet another resurgence of the deadly disease, famous for its unpredictability. Luckily, we will be able to draw on previous work. As part of our efforts to expand local response capacity in the region, 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 during the last outbreak, International Medical Corps constructed nearly 100 screening-and-referral units throughout the region. With these new cases, we have deployed a rapid response team to the region and remain in close contact with the Ministry of Health, local health officials and the international community to identify any additional support we can provide.