Special communication of the Minister of Health regarding the evolution of the ninth Ebola outbreak in DRC

29 June, 2018

(with thanks to Tropical Health Update)

https://mailchi.mp/daff27052d5a/ebola_rdc_28juin?e=2bde1f126a

Special communication of the Minister of Health regarding the evolution of the ninth Ebola outbreak in DRC

On Thursday 28th June 2018, all the people who have been in contact with the last confirmed Ebola case have passed the 21-day incubation period without showing any signs of an Ebola infection. This is an important milestone in the Ebola response as it marks the start of the countdown towards the end of the ninth Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The end of the outbreak will be declared when the country spends 42 days, or two incubation periods, without notifying new confirmed Ebola cases.

This outbreak has been the most challenging and complex outbreak the country has ever had to face, mainly because it started in two rural zones at the same time and quickly reached a city of more than 1 million inhabitants directly connected to Kinshasa, our capital city where more than 12 million Congolese live. Yet thanks to a rapid national and international mobilization as well as a great government-led coordination of the response, we managed to contain this high-risk outbreak in just 7 weeks.

This is a great achievement that we should all be proud of. The key of our success lies, primarily, in the efficiency of the national and international surveillance teams on the ground, which have been - and are still – doing an outstanding work. They managed to identify and trace 1,706 contacts who were among the first beneficiaries of the new vaccine against Ebola.

The use of vaccination in this Ebola response has been a game-changer as it allowed us to break the chain of transmission and contain the virus more quickly. Since the beginning of the vaccination microplan on May 21st, 3,330 people have been vaccinated and immunized against the Ebola virus. So far, the results of the vaccination have been promising as none of the individuals who were vaccinated developed the disease nor experienced major side effects.

While we are heading towards the end of the outbreak, the work of the Ministry of Health does not end here. Our priority is now to improve the resilience of the health system starting with the expansion of our emergency operations centers in Mbandaka and Kinshasa. As Ebola is a virus whose natural reservoir is located in the Equatorial Forest, we must prepare ourselves for the 10th Ebola outbreak. Moreover, with the greater mobility of the population, we can expect to have other outbreaks in urban zones in the future. We must learn the lessons from this response and strengthen our health system in order to detect and respond even more efficiently to the next outbreak.

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Forwarded by Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA moderator