Republic of Congo: Ebola Virus Disease Preparedness - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF n° MDRCG015 / PCG017

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster / crisis

Since 3rd May 2018, more than 56 suspected, probable and confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) have been reported in the Equateur Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As of 7 June, there were a total of 59 confirmed, probable and suspected Ebola cases, of which 27 people had died. According to WHO, a new case was confirmed on 6 June.
Following the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak declared by WHO on 8 May in the Bikoro health zone of Equateur province in DRC, some nine countries bordering the affected nation have been alerted and highlighted as being at-risk of a potential spread of said outbreak. Of these nine countries, the Republic of Congo (RoC) is amongst the priority countries, where WHO and the Ministry of Health (MoH) have engaged in preventive actions to reduce the impact of an eventual outbreak in the country.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Republic of Congo and partners (WHO, UNICEF, IOM, FAO) have identified a high risk of importation of the epidemic into Congo for the following reasons:

• Regular and continuous movements of the population on the various waterways and through various points of entry along the Ubangi River and the Congo River, between the Equateur (proximity with the Likouala Division (districts of Liranga, Dongou, Betou, Impfondo), the Central Cuvette Division (districts of Mossaka, Loukoléla and Mongolo) and the Plateaux Division, especially the districts of Makotimpoko,
Bouémba, Mpouya. (See map above).

• This part of the Congo River located between Mbandaka, Bikoro, Liranga, Kinshasa and Brazzaville, is a very intense trading corridor and weekly public markets are organized in several of the aforementioned localities.
As a result, MoH and partners have activated an Ebola Preparedness and Response Coordination Committee and are carrying out activities relating to emergency assessment, epidemiological surveillance, case detection and management, as well as social mobilization.

Summary of the current response

Overview of Host National Society

The Red Cross of the Republic of Congo (CRC) is a humanitarian organization, auxiliary to public authorities. It is structured in all the 12 divisions of Congo and is a permanent member of the inter-agency coordination committee (ICC).
CRC participates in emergency coordination meetings at all levels (central, divisional, municipal and health districts).
The national headquarters houses an operational management structure consisting of four technical departments and trained professionals. CRC has an extensive experience in the management of epidemics and internal conflicts. Congo has witnessed four Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreaks.
It must be recalled that CRC has a network of 13,000 volunteers, 70 per cent of whom are trained and available young people. Between 2013 and 2014, five hundred volunteers were trained on epidemic management for volunteers and the community-based health and first aid (CBHFA) approach in action. Congo has witnessed four EVD outbreaks, the latest of which was in 2014 in the Cuvette Ouest Division and the volunteers do have enough expertise to cope with.
In collaboration with MoH, WHO, UNICEF and NGOs, CRC contributes to the preparation for the epidemic response through the identification of entry points, social mobilization alongside medical services and will receive training amongst the community caregivers of MoH.
At Headquarters level, with the support of the NS (Secretary General) and IFRC, the Head of the Health Department is providing technical support in developing this DREF request, alerting volunteers for their mobilization, identifying volunteers trained in epidemic management, participating in emergency coordination meetings and providing necessary updates on the prevention action plan building on previous responses, in line with the MoH’s roadmap.

Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in the country

The IFRC Central Africa country cluster support team (CCST) based in Yaoundé assists the CRC in coordinating all activities with deployment, financial support, logistics and insurance of volunteers, particularly for the development of a DREF request, Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (PMER), as well as participation in field supervision missions.
The French Red Cross is the only partner National Society present in the country and supports health and WaSH projects.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has a strong presence in the RoC and is also active in conflict areas. It should, however, be noted that the areas concerned by this operation are not in these conflict areas, but rather in the river corridor where there is intense population movement between DRC and RoC.

Overview of non-RCRC actors in country

A technical coordination meeting presided over by the Director General of Epidemiology and Disease Control (DGELM) with delegations from the Ministry of Forest Economy and UN agencies (WHO, UNHCR, FAO, IMO) took place on Thursday 10 May 2018. Participants revisited the Contingency Plan for Ebola Prevention and Response.
At the level of the National Public Health Laboratory, a case confirmation and clinical trial preparation team has been set up. A national coordination committee is set up and is chaired by the National Director of the Health Laboratory and an executive of WHO Congo.
WHO is supporting nine countries bordering the DRC to scale up their national emergency preparedness and response capacities. A plan finalized on 7 June outlines how these countries can review their readiness to respond, while identifying any gaps in their capabilities. WHO is working closely with the Ministries of Health and wider government stakeholders, and partners in these countries to put these measures in place.
The WHO / Congo office made an inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE), body bags, disinfectants and existing communication media under production. The following items are available and prepositioned: PPE, 10 body bags, 10 containers of 45 kg each of calcium hypochlorite (NaOCl) at 65%, 7 MAXI WATA bleach machines, specimens of communication media (image box, leaflets, posters). The inventory of PPE and body bags still available at the Directorate General of Hygiene is underway.
Technical commissions are set up to update the contingency plan in view of preparation for the response.