Community health volunteers deployed across the Bas-Uele Province to contain the outbreak of the Ebola virus
by Yves Willemot
KINSHASA/DAKAR/NEW YORK, 30 May 2017 – In an effort to contain the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 145 volunteers of the Congolese Red Cross and community health workers trained with the technical support of UNICEF have been deployed across the Bas-Uele Province to deliver lifesaving information to local populations, most of whom live in remote, hard-to-reach areas along the border with the Central African Republic.
In these sparsely populated areas, with very limited communication and reliable transport networks, public outreach campaigns require sensitive dialogues with community leaders to help quell panic-inducing rumors and promote practical preventative steps for households to protect against the highly infectious disease. Public information campaigns on local radio stations and in churches and market places are ongoing across the affected areas.
“There is no treatment for the Ebola virus disease, so prevention remains one of the major options to contain the spread of the disease,” said Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF’s acting Representative in DRC. “We’ve seen in previous epidemics that working hand in hand with health workers and the affected communities is the most effective strategy to quickly inform the public on ways to protect against the Ebola virus and to avoid the spread of the disease.”
Under the coordination of national health authorities, and in collaboration with the World Health Organization, UNICEF has trained volunteers and community workers on how to chlorinate water and disinfect homes to avoid the spread of the disease and ways to adapt local burial practices to reduce contamination risks, as bodies of people who died from the Ebola virus are contagious.
The Government has decided to make the local health services available at no charge in the affected health zone of Likati during the epidemic in a move to encourage people to go to their local health center in case of illness. In addition, EU funds have helped UNICEF send a flight with supplies and medicines to equip the health facilities in the Likati area.
Since the official declaration of the epidemic by the country’s Ministry of Health on 12 May, two people have been declared Ebola-positive, one died from the disease. In order to prevent the spread of the disease, all people with hemorrhagic fever are being tracked, their blood analyzed, and the health situation of all people who were in contact with a suspected case are closely monitored.
UNICEF needs 2.8 million USD to respond to the Ebola virus disease outbreak in support of the National Response Plan.
About Ebola in the DRC
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