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 currently operate one in Mambassa; and we are operating an ETC in Mangina, the initial epicenter of the outbreak and currently where most cases are being treated. In addition to providing treatment, vaccination and contact tracing, International Medical Corps has 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.
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.