WHO declares Ebola a global health “emergency”

The World Health Organization (WHO) on 17 July declared the global health emergency because of the Ebola epidemic in the DRC that has killed 1,668 people since last summer. An alert given after the death of the first case detected in a metropolis, Goma, the second largest city of the country at the crossroads of the Great Lakes.

The decision to declare an international public health emergency is made by a panel of WHO experts. For this, the World Health Organization takes into account several criteria, the first of which is the risk of spreading the virus internationally.

In the case of Ebola haemorrhagic fever, this declaration of global health emergency reflects the concern of experts to see the disease spread in other countries.

A patient died Monday during his transfer from Goma to Butembo. The city of Goma , which has 1 million inhabitants, is located on the border with Rwanda. Its international airport is also very connected to Kinshasa or Addis Ababa. People ” contacts ” are also sought in Uganda, as in the Congo.

Today, the only way to contain the disease is to identify all the people who have been in contact with patients, because there is a risk that they have contracted the disease or that they end up being contaminated if they are not vaccinated in time. This is called the chain of contamination and today, the Ebola response fails to secure. Just because people are fleeing. Some have no signs of bleeding and do not feel sick. Others are afraid to die in treatment centers or to be infected there.

With a dozen cases confirmed per day, on average, the situation remains as worrying in the rest of the east of the country, even if we are far from the peaks of more than twenty daily cases in January or June. Alerts which were explained by the mistrust of the population vis-à-vis the treatment centers and the repeated attacks – more than 200 according to the WHO – of these same centers by armed groups. There is also the cancellation of the vote for the presidential elections in Beni-Butembo, stronghold of the opposition, and the postponement of legislation. The reason given was Ebola, while the epidemic was under control at the time, according to WHO. This has been instrumentalized for political ends by all sides.

In Butembo, the various actors in the field now estimate that community efforts are beginning to bear fruit, with a decline in the number of cases. But the epicenter of Ebola seems to be moving back to Beni, home of the epidemic, where the situation has deteriorated sharply since May.

For the local civil society it is the proof that it is necessary to ” relativize ” the optimism of the authorities, who continue to claim to have things ” under control “.

The WHO Director General said it was ” time for the world to take note ” of the epidemic, but he recommended that the DRC’s borders with its neighbors remain open, otherwise informal crossings will occur. multiply, together with the risk of spreading Ebola.

From now on, following this global alert, the 196 signatory countries of the international health regulation will have to reinforce their surveillance of the Ebola virus within their borders, but also in their airports and seaports with systematic controls of the passengers. This is the fifth time since 2005 that a global health emergency has been launched by WHO.

Dr. Sinan Khaddaj, Secretary-General of the Women and Health Alliance (Waha), welcomes the decision of WHO. According to him, it should allow the necessary mobilization to overcome the epidemic.

However, Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director general of the WHO, defends himself to have raised the alert level to obtain funds. It’s about ” fighting a disease. No donor withdrew its contribution because WHO had not classified Ebola as an international health emergency. But if some people have used this excuse not to provide financial help, then they can not do it anymore . “