The risk of cross-border transmission of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to Burundi remains high with six cases of EVD confirmed in South Kivu in DRC close to the border with Burundi.
The immunization campaign for front-line workers against EVD was launched in August 2019. As of 11 September, 1,700 front line workers were vaccinated.
UNICEF supported the Ministry of Health in the distribution of 100 handwashing stations in public places (including schools and health centers) in high risk areas.
UNICEF and partners jointly targeted 20 health facilities in priority 1 districts to raise their level of IPC/WASH compliance with standards and improve the level of readiness for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC).
With the ongoing Ebola outbreak in eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as a neighboring country, Burundi is at high risk of cross-border transmission. As of 24 September 2019ii , six cases (three deaths) were confirmed in South Kivu (less than 300 kilometers from Burundi), which increases the risk of cross-border transmission. The border, approximately 190 kilometers long, is characterized by a high number of border crossings, requiring additional focus on preparedness.
Humanitarian Leadership and Coordination
The National Ebola Taskforce (NTF), under the leadership of the MoH, continues to coordinate the EVD preparedness and response planning. On 11 September 2019, the NTF presented Burundi’s level of readiness to respond to an EVD outbreak in the country. While preparedness at the national level was reported as adequate, at the district level, preparedness is considered low; mainly due to the limited capacity to coordinate and respond at the decentralized level.
The NTF was set up under the leadership of the MoH in collaboration with relevant government departments, WHO and other UN agencies (UNICEF, IOM, UNHCR, WFP, OCHA), donors (World Bank, USAID, DFID) and NGOs (ICRC, MSF-OCB). The taskforce coordinates the EVD preparedness and response planning including the National Contingency Plan, Centralized Operational Plan and District Micro-Operational Plan). In May 2019, thematic groups were established and re-structured in line with the six EVD pillars: surveillance, case management, laboratory, IPC/WASH, communication and community engagement, and logistics. In June 2019, the NTF revised the National Plan through the development of a comprehensive costed plan for each pillar for preparedness activities until 31 December 2019.
Since May 2018, the national taskforce for EVD has mobilized US$11.9 million to implement the preparedness plan, which represents 56 per cent of the revised planned budget (US$21.5 million in total).
Partner support for EVD preparedness
UN agencies (including UNICEF) operate within the government coordination and response structures. WHO and OCHA are the technical secretariat of weekly strategic EVD coordination meetings at national level with UN agencies, donors, bilateral and multilateral cooperation and NGOs. The meeting is chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator. EVD UN technical meetings are also called on a weekly basis for the implementation and monitoring of the CERF - allocated in February 2019 (UNICEF received US$600,000 of an approximate US$2.4 million). Ad-hoc meetings and working sessions with UN agencies and NGOs are also convened by WHO as needed.
UNICEF actively participates in these meetings and provides technical support to the NTF and several sub-committees, such as IPC/WASH, Case Management, Logistics and Communication/Community Engagement (as a co-lead). Other existing UNICEF led coordination groups such as WASH, Child Protection and Education sectors have included preparedness and surveillance as a standing item in all meetings.