Why the latest Ebola outbreak in Congo is a growing concern?

Headline : Why the latest Ebola outbreak in Congo is a growing concern?

Details :

News Context

  • Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo has become the second-deadliest in history with 1,220 confirmed and probable cases, including 772 deaths, since Aug 2018.
  • However, despite a worsening Ebola epidemic, the World Health Organization has decided not to declare the outbreak a global health emergency.

Note: The deadliest Ebola outbreak was in West Africa (Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia) from 2014-16, that killed more than 11,300 people.


About Ebola

  • Ebola is a virus that can spread quickly and can be fatal in up to 90% of cases.
  • Symptoms: Fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding.
  • Incubation period (time before the symptoms of a viral infection appear): 2- 21 days
  • Spreading of the virus: The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
    • The virus is most often spread by close contact with the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms and with objects such as sheets that have been contaminated.
    • Health care workers are often at risk of being infected, and burial practices that call for close contact with Ebola victims can spread the disease.
  • Treatment: There is no licensed treatment for Ebola, however, receiving early care such as rehydration and treatment of other symptoms helps to improve survival chances.
    • However, recently, a new experimental Ebola vaccine has been shown to be effective.
  • Presently affected areas: North-eastern provinces of Congo sharing borders with Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.


Why WHO has not declared Ebola a global health emergency?

  • According to WHO, the epidemic does not meet the global emergency criteria because it has remained limited to two northeastern provinces and has not reached other countries, even though the affected areas share borders with Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.
  • Also, the WHO experts are moderately optimistic that the outbreak could be contained within a foreseeable time.

Challenges in containing Ebola:

  • This is the first Ebola outbreak to occur in a war zone, where multiple rebel groups are active in Congo’s northeast, killing hundreds of people in recent years.
  • Attacks have led to a traumatized population that can be cautious of outsiders, which makes it difficult for health workers to treat the affected population and explain them about the importance of safe burials and other preventative measures.
  • The health teams often faced attacks from the people and in some cases had to shut down their clinics
Section : Social Issues