DRC Plagued by both Violence and Ebola
In 1976, Ebola, short for Ebola Virus Disease, was first discovered close to the Ebola river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). An outbreak of this disease, which is both rare and deadly, started about two months ago in the DRC.
The WHO, and other groups, have faced significant challenges in fighting and containing the outbreak since rebel violence has increased in the northeastern region of the DRC. This violence has been a huge contributing factor to the doubling of Ebola cases that has happened since September.
The outbreak is expected to last another three to four months according to the WHO. The WHO also warns that the outbreak could easily spread beyond the DRC’s borders into Rwanda and Uganda at any time.
Recently, the government has deployed security forces to protect the envoys and teams carrying Ebola victims to burial. The virus spreads through direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is infected, meaning that the effective burial of Ebola victims is crucial to containing the disease. The deployment of forces is in response to a number of attacks on health workers in last couple of months.
The government of the DRC is also making it the legal obligation for traditional healers to report people suspected of having Ebola. The health ministry has said that any professional that doesn’t report those suspected of having Ebola will have their own health centres shut down.
One of the main concerns has been the spread of the disease to the city of Beni which has a population of over 200,000 people and is near the border with Uganda. However, many residents continue to resist response workers and health care professionals due to misconceptions about the nature of the virus and overall mistrust.
However, it is still armed violence and war that is the biggest threat to controlling this outbreak. If health workers can’t negotiate or work with the armed insurgents in the areas of the outbreak, it could risk things spiraling out of control.