19 Sep 2012
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Healthcare worker disinfects areas where cases of deaths from Ebola have been reported. Credit: WHO
Ebola outbreak puts communities at risk in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF have received a total of US$1.75 million from humanitarian funds managed by OCHA and the UN Development Programme to help prevent and contain an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). 

The deadly disease, which killed some 250 people in DRC in 1995, resurfaced in early August in the eastern Province Orientale. So far, there have been more than 70 cases and some 30 people have died, according to WHO. Since 1976, there have been eight Ebola outbreaks in DRC. 
 
Healthcare experts are reporting that the current strain is less virulent but its symptoms do not necessarily include hemorrhaging, making it hard to diagnose and contain. Some five healthcare workers have died and more than 20 are infected. 
 
"The Ebola outbreak is a big concern for the affected communities. The Government, UN agencies and humanitarian partners are doing everything they can to break the chain of transmission and to contain the situation,” said Dr. Leodegal Bazira of the WHO, which has deployed epidemiologists and is supporting the Ministry of Health with coordination, surveillance and logistics. “The funding will provide life-saving care, prevention programmes and psycho-social support to the victims and their families."  
 
The funding will allow the UN agencies to help boost the national authorities’ capacity to respond to the crisis, including through prevention programmes and measures to help communities deal and cope with the effects of the epidemic. Nearly 700,000 people living in the northeastern town of Isiro, which is the epicenter, will benefit. 
 
Of the $1.75 million, $750,000 comes from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund which supports live-saving work quickly during emergencies. The remainder comes from donors through the DRC Pooled Fund, also known as the Common Humanitarian Fund. This resource for humanitarian work in the DRC is jointly managed by OCHA and the UN Development Fund and has received more than $75 million. The Government has also allocated $250,000 to efforts to fight the disease.
 
Organizations including Medecins Sans Frontières, the Red Cross and the United States Center for Diseases Control are also working with the Government of DRC and UN agencies to respond to the Ebola crisis. 
 
Reporting by OCHA DRC