WASHINGTON — The international community is making “significant” progress in responding to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but not so much when it comes to addressing the needs of neighboring Central African Republic, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday.
“We haven’t seen any confirmed case since mid-May” in the areas of Mbandaka and Bikoro, the two epicenters of the Ebola outbreak in DRC, Tedros said in a video call from Kinshasa with Devex President Raj Kumar, which was later shown to conference participants at Devex World.
But they are boosting their efforts in Itipo, where the last confirmed case was just last week, June 6.
“The situation compared to a month ago is much better, significantly better … but the work is not over until all is over,” the WHO aid chief said, emphasizing continued surveillance and vigilance.
This is Tedros’ second visit to DRC in a month. His last visit was in May, right before the start of the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.
There have been 59 confirmed Ebola cases in DRC and 28 deaths since the start of the outbreak, he said. Organizations working on the ground are racing to contain it before it spills over to bordering nations and becomes a larger threat in the region. Ebola survivors in DRC are forming an association to raise awareness about the disease and how people can protect themselves.
WHO is also assisting neighboring countries, such as Congo Brazzaville and CAR, in strengthening surveillance in case of a cross-border spread of the disease.
The WHO chief made a specific clarion call for the international community to pay attention to CAR and the needs of the people there, many of whom are suffering from a broken health system after years of conflict. There are now more than 1 million internally displaced people in CAR, he said. Bangui was part of his itinerary in his latest trip.
“It’s a neglected crisis — political, financially, operationally,” he said. “The international community has neglected the Central African Republic, and this is not right.”