Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
Health Care | By Terrence Lopez

WHO Prepares For Worst Case Ebola Scenario, Hopes To Deploy Vaccine

WHO Prepares For Worst Case Ebola Scenario, Hopes To Deploy Vaccine

Responding to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Ebola outbreak is going to be hard and costly, and though the effort is off to a good start, help from the global community is urgently needed, the head of emergency response for the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

Kinshasa/ Nairobi/Geneva, 12 May 2018-A Red Cross team has deployed to Equateur province in north-western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), bringing with them much needed stocks of life-saving equipment and supplies to prevent the further spread of Ebola.

The ministry added, two cases have also been confirmed and nine others are suspected to be from the Ebola virus.

Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response Peter Salama is reported by Reuters to have said that his outfit is "preparing for the worst-case scenario".

This is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded DRC since it was first identified near its northern Ebola river in the 1970s.

The incident in the town of Bikoro comes more than a year after an outbreak in the country killed four people. Of the 21 initially reported cases on 8 May 2018, 17 had epidemiological links (potential contacts with another suspect case).

As for the risk, Salama said World Health Organization was especially concerned about the near-term spread of the disease, including to Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province, which has around 1 million inhabitants and is only a few hours away from Bikoro. Eighteen people died as of Friday, including a nurse.

"We will gather more samples, conduct contact tracing, engage the communities with messages on prevention and control, and put in place methods for improving data collection and sharing", said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa. WHO will also work with national authorities in planning further public health measures such as vaccination campaigns.

If you don't die from Ebola, you might suffer from long-term disability and stand the risk of being persistently infected with a chance of the disease reoccurring years later.

The WHO is still waiting on approval from the DRC to use the experimental Ebola vaccine, but plans for deployment are already under way as officials wait for a formal decision from the country's health ministry. We probably won't know for sure what went wrong in this outbreak, but blame has been placed on the slow response of the worldwide community, the fragility of the region's health services, and the failure of public health campaigns to reach all people.

Binet said "the Congolese authorities, the World Health Organization, as well as MSF are already in discussion to have the vaccines available".

Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

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