Since August 1, 2018, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is fighting a severe Ebola outbreak –the 10th such outbreak the country is facing since 1976. The World Bank is supporting the frontline response efforts of the government and international partners in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in Eastern DRC, which border Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda. The health response is complicated due to the ongoing conflict and insecurity in the area, social tensions, and political uncertainty which are leading to community resistance to efforts to contain the outbreak.
The World Bank’s Role
World Bank’s priority in DRC is to limit the human devastation caused by Ebola, by enabling health workers to prevent further infection, provide treatment, limit transmission and save lives, with the goal of ultimately containing the outbreak.
The World Bank is the leading financial supporter of the joint response effort by the DRC government and international partners, contributing over half the cost of the overall campaign since its outset. The financing comes from IDA (the World Bank’s fund for low-income countries) and the cash window of the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF), an innovative financing mechanism set up specifically to combat pandemics.
World Bank financing covers three key areas: urgent Ebola outbreak response, strengthening the DRC health system, and investing in pandemic preparedness in DRC as well as in neighboring countries to minimize the risk of spread.
Urgent Outbreak Response
The World Bank supports health clinics in all affected areas with free healthcare and provision of essential medicines. This has removed financial barriers for patients needing to access healthcare and has resulted in a three to five-fold increase in the number of patients seeking care, making detection of Ebola easier.
10 Ebola treatment centers have been established in Beni, Bunia, Butembo, Goma, Katwa, Kayina, Komanda, Mandima, Manginaet and Tchomia
Sixty percent of all frontline healthworkers in Ebola-affected areas – which is 1,800 workers —are supported with hazard pay
5,216 handwashing stations have been set up to ensure hygiene and limit transmission
7 mobile laboratories and 67 case tracking teams carry out contact tracing and disease surveillance
21 decontamination teams ensure cleanliness and safe disposal of infected items
75 pyscho-social support teams have provided 3,000 pyscho-social support kits to families of patients.
Community engagement campaigns have helped increase knowledge on how to limit Ebola transmission, build community support and ensure that new cases are reported immediately and treated.
Over 80,000 people have been vaccinated through an innovative coordinated response supported by many partners, including GAVI
Strengthening the DRC Health System
The current Ebola response builds on several years of World Bank and partner engagement to help build DRC’s health system, enabling the country to take a leadership role in the Ebola response.
World Bank technical experts have helped develop the Ebola Strategic Response Plans put together jointly by the government and international partners to combat the outbreak.
The Center of Excellence for Ebola (CEE) is being established, which would be the foundation of a national public health institution for DRC and could play a regional role in the context of Ebola outbreaks.
Investing in Pandemic Preparedness in DRC and Beyond
A Neighborhood Preparedness Plan, as well as financing, are in place for the nine countries that border the DRC, in case the outbreak crosses borders.
Despite this escalated and coordinated Ebola response, the situation in DRC remains grave. The World Bank remains fully committed to supporting the frontline response of the DRC government and international partners until the outbreak is contained.