The Guardian

The Guardian view on Ebola in the DRC: help needed – and dialogue too | Editorial

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The second largest outbreak of the disease has already sickened thousands. WHO’s declaration of an emergency of international concern should prompt more and better supportAre we able to learn the right lessons when disaster strikes? Five years ago, a devastating outbreak of Ebola in west Africa claimed more than 11,000 lives, and sparked an international panic as it reached the US and Europe. The experience led to the vaccine and experimental treatments now being used in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But this outbreak has become the second most deadly despite efforts to combat it over the last year. More than 1,600 people in the north-east of the country have died. Now, with the virus flaring up again in places where it had been contained, reaching the major city of Goma on the border with Rwanda, and spreading over 500km, with cases identified in Uganda, the World Health Organization has declared it an emergency of international concern.This is a very different challenge from 2014’s. It is not only a public health but a humanitarian crisis, taking place in a conflict zone, with widespread malnutrition, a struggling health system, and deep suspicion hampering efforts to control the disease: this year has seen 174 attacks on health workers fighting the outbreak. The fear and distrust of outsiders has been compounded by Ebola’s high fatality rates. Vaccines cannot protect those who have already contracted the disease, and though people are more likely to survive with proper treatment, many delay because they do not trust those offering help: by the time they are finally seen, it is far harder to help them. Those around them may wrongly conclude that vaccines or health workers are the problem and not the cure. They see more international groups at work, and more deaths. Continue reading…

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Publish date : 2019-07-18 17:27:22

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