Local communities key: Four things you need to know about the Ebola outbreak in DRC

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) declared a suspected Ebola outbreak in Likati Health Zone in the far north of the country on 9 May. As of today, 11 suspected cases including three deaths have been recorded.

Red Cross staff and volunteers are ready to respond and support local communities to stop the Ebola outbreak in DRC.

IFRC has today released just over 199,000 Swiss francs to support the community-level efforts of the Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Four things you need to know about this outbreak:

  1. This is the first Ebola outbreak since the end of the West Africa outbreak in 2016, and the first in the country since November 2014.
    The most recent outbreak occurred in Equateur province between August and November 2014 in which there were 38 confirmed cases and 49 deaths. Ebola was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976. Since its discovery, the country has managed and controlled eight outbreaks.

  2. The response so far has been focused on reaching affected communities as swiftly as possible.
    The Likati Health Zone is located in a remote, hard to-access part of northern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The isolation, low population density, early detection and the availability of experienced responders, including the Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, give reason for hope that this outbreak will be contained. However, now is not the time for complacency. The country’s Ministry of Health, supported by international partners, has deployed a team of experts to the affected area to conduct an in-depth field investigation.

  3. Local communities and volunteers– are critical to containing and ending this outbreak.
    Health emergencies begin and end in communities. Previous Ebola outbreaks have underscored the importance of local action, delivered in local languages, and with respect to local customs and beliefs to help communities understand the current facts of the outbreak so that they can protect themselves, their families and support the response against the disease.

  4. The Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has experience responding to Ebola and is backed by a Red Cross network of experts.
    IFRC is providing resources and expertise needed for volunteers and staff to deliver support to the affected communities in Likati health zone. Forty-five Red Cross volunteers in Likati have already been mobilized, with others from surrounding areas on standby. The National Society is part of coordination response mechanisms at the national and provincial level, and its water, sanitation and hygiene promotion manager is taking part in a government-led mission to the affected area.