The Ebola outbreak in the northeast of the DRC, the country’s 10th and second-largest in world history, claimed the lives of 2,287 of the 3,324 patients affected. The 11th outbreak, in Équateur Province, affected 13 of the province’s 18 health zones, with 130 confirmed cases and 55 deaths.
372,848 people have been vaccinated against Ebola (including 39,859 in Équateur province).
INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS’ RESPONSE
During the 11th Ebola outbreak, International Medical Corps’ Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) managed more than 900 patients at Ebola Treatment Centers (ETCs) in Bikoro, Mbandaka and Buburu, including 29 confirmed cases.
On June 30, when the Mangina ETC in the northeast was decommissioned, the facility had cared for 3,859 suspected and 422 confirmed Ebola patients.
International Medical Corps is providing infection prevention and control (IPC) support to 196 health facilities to ensure that healthcare delivery is safe, including 20 new facilities in Équateur province.
Since August 21, 2018, screening and referral units (SRUs) supported by International Medical Corps have provided more than 2 million screenings for Ebola and 1.2 million screenings for COVID-19.
Support for COVID-19 Vaccine Preparedness in the DRC
Disease outbreaks are common in the DRC, including diseases of international concern, such as Ebola and COVID-19. The introduction of an Ebola vaccine in the DRC in 2018 enabled the country to mitigate the impact of the last three outbreaks. Based on this experience, the DRC government hopes to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the country through the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.
To promote this goal, the DRC has been enrolled by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization—now known as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance—in COVAX, a global initiative that seeks to enable equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly by middle- and low-income countries. With the reception and roll out of these vaccines scheduled to begin during the first quarter of 2021, preparedness activities are being coordinated by a national multisectoral committee.
Among the needs for the vaccine rollout are support for information and promotion campaigns, cold-chain management, logistics, waste management and immunization surveillance. Vaccination efforts will prioritize high-risk groups, such as healthcare workers and other frontline staff, people living with co-morbidities and the elderly. In February, International Medical Corps will begin conducting community consultations in four provinces of the DRC to identify community perception and misinformation about potential COVID-19 vaccines, which we will document and share with the Ministry of Health. These findings will inform a national workshop to develop a community engagement and communication plan that will support the rollout of the vaccine. With additional donor support, International Medical Corps looks forward to supporting the DRC government with other aspects of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.