The UN health agency extended the global emergency status for the Ebola outbreak in DR Congo but admitted that there have been “extremely positive” signs of a sharp decline in eastern Congo. During an Emergency Committee meeting, the members unanimously advised that the outbreak in DR Congo continues to be a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) under the International Health Regulations (2005).
The World Health Organisation (WHO), in a statement, said that the Committee acknowledged the revised risk assessment, putting the risk as ‘high’ at national and regional levels, and ‘low’ at the global level. The UN agency said the Committee was concerned that withdrawal of PHEIC might have adverse effects on the response efforts through diminishing focus.
Speaking at the press conference, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that as long as there is a single case of Ebola in an area, the potential for a much larger epidemic remains given the lack of security and stability in eastern DR Congo.
"Nonetheless, the signs are extremely positive in the eastern DR Congo and I hope that by the time the Emergency Committee reconvenes, we will be able to declare an end to the outbreak,” hoped the WHO chief.
"Tomorrow I will travel to Kinshasa, #DRC for discussions with the President and other senior ministers about how to strengthen 🇨🇩’s health system and protect and promote the health of its people"-@DrTedros #HealthForAll— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) February 12, 2020
The Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the WHO Secretariat, and the UN Ebola Emergency Response Coordinator made presentations at the meeting. According to the WHO, a total of 3431 cases were reported till February 10, of which 3308 were confirmed and 123 were probable.
The Committee advised DR Congo to strengthen preparedness in non-affected provinces of DRC and strengthen the health system across the country to respond to concurrent health emergencies. It also suggested sustaining the political commitment and multisectoral coordination approach to the response.
(With Agency Inputs)