Responding to the Ebola Outbreak in Équateur Province In September, several confirmed cases of Ebola were reported in Équateur province, including Bomongo and Lilanga Bolangi health zones. The proximity of these two health zones with the neighboring Republic of the Congo (and its capital, Brazzaville), increases the risk of the current outbreak—the eleventh in DRC’s history—spreading to neighboring countries and becoming a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). This risk is all the more evident as it has been reported that high-risk contacts of the newly confirmed cases have crossed over into the Republic of the Congo.
International Medical Corps deployed a Rapid Response Team (RRT) to Bomongo health zone, which has been managing suspect and confirmed Ebola cases over the past two weeks in the affected health zones, using the Buburu health center to isolate cases. The RRT is helping the Ministry of Health (MoH) upgrade this facility to an integrated Ebola Treatment Center (ETC). The risk of cross infection between patients, as well as possible transmission to caregivers, has been reduced through reinforced infection prevention and control (IPC) measures. This includes providing and using personal protective equipment (PPE); supplies to ensure water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); and medicines. Additionally, a patient circuit has been set up that separates high- and low-risk zones.
To ensure the availability of water (which is indispensable for IPC) at this facility, the team is rehabilitating its three hand pumps, which were in poor working condition. Furthermore, the RRT intends to rehabilitate the facility’s waste zone, which will reinforce waste management. The RRT also will set up a mortuary to hold the bodies of the deceased while they await safe and dignified burials, and is finalizing plans to train health facility staff in the supported health zone, to protect them during the delivery of care and reduce their risk of acquiring infections (including Ebola). Coaching and on-the-job training to staff in the integrated treatment center will enable International Medical Corps to hand over patient care to the MoH once the deployment comes to an end, and will enable the team to be available for deployment to new hotspots. These interventions Bomongo health zone are part of the overall support provided by International Medical Corps to the MoH, which also includes management of Ebola cases at two other ETCs in the Mbandaka and Bikoro health zones—the initial epicenters of the outbreak—as well as IPC support to 20 health centers in Iboko and Bikoro health zones.