The World Health Organization (WHO) chief has repeated his call for warring parties in DR Congos’s (DRC’s) conflict-riven North Kivu to stop fighting, and allow health teams access to areas affected by the recent Ebola outbreak in the region.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhenom Ghebreyesus, stated that two day mission to DRC left him “more worried” than he had been over containing the outbreak on the western side of the country, which officially ended late last month.
“What makes the outbreak in Eastern DRC or Northern Kivu more dangerous, is that there is a security challenge. There is active conflict in that area,” he stressed, noting that since January, the area had seen more than 120 violent incidents, including killings and kidnappings of civilians.
Referring to the areas where armed groups are operating, he said they could be “hiding places” for the virus. “We have difficulty accessing those areas, and people in those areas will have difficulty moving to places where they can get the support they need,” he explained.
“We are asking the international community to help in ensuring access into the inaccessible areas,” Tedros pleaded. “We also call on the warring parties for a cessation of hostilities because the virus is dangerous to all, it doesn’t choose between this group or that group,” he stressed.
According to WHO and the Ministry of Health, the number of cases so far stands at 57 confirmed or suspected cases, with 41 deaths, already surpassing the previous Ebola outbreak in the country’s Equateur Province, with 53 cases and 29 deaths. In addition, WHO reports that the number of women infected in Kivu so far is much higher than the number of men infected.