Fears of Ebola pandemic if DRC violent attacks continue

Source(s): Agence France Presse

Health officials have warned that the second-deadliest outbreak of Ebola may spiral out of control unless attacks by armed groups on medical facilities and workers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) stop.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva on Wednesday, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the DRC’s health minister, said the government of his country was struggling to contain the spread of the virus amid a spike in violent attacks against doctors and hospitals that were dangerously delaying the emergency response. “The real emergency we face right now is security,” Kalenga said on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly, which is under way this week in the Swiss city.


Intercommunal violence has afflicted eastern DRC for decades, with a number of armed groups operating across a region that has historically been neglected by the central government in the capital, Kinshasa. The situation has worsened over the past years, creating hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and almost a million refugees in neighbouring countries, according to the UN’s refugee agency.

In addition to violent attacks, medical workers’ efforts to contain the spread of the disease have been hampered by widespread community distrust of health agencies and institutions. A recent study by the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal showed that more than 30 percent of respondents believed that the virus was fabricated for the financial gain of local elites or to cause further destabilisation.


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