What the WHO’s Emergency Declaration Means for Congo’s Ebola Outbreak

What the WHO’s Emergency Declaration Means for Congo’s Ebola Outbreak
Health workers take their shift at a treatment center in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 13, 2019 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: Africa Watch will be off the next two weeks. It will return Aug. 9, with Andrew Green curating the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.

The Ebola outbreak that began in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo more than a year ago is now officially a global health emergency. The World Health Organization declared the epidemic a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC, after declining to do so on three previous occasions. The reconsideration followed the virus’ spread to the city of Goma, a major regional hub home to a million people. The declaration is meant to bring greater international attention to the epidemic and more funds to address it, although WHO officials said that it should not result in any travel or trade restrictions.

The outbreak, which was officially declared in August 2018, is the second-worst in history, having infected more than 2,500 people and killed nearly 1,700. Despite having access to an experimental vaccine for the first time, health officials in the region have struggled to contain the spread in the face of persistent violence and conflict in Congo and community resistance to the WHO’s response.

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