As the first case of Ebola is confirmed in Goma, DRC, the most populated area to see Ebola yet, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is on the ground working in health facilities throughout the city to train health workers to recognize Ebola symptoms and safely triage and transfer suspected cases to Ebola treatment centers (ETCs).
Tariq Riebl, IRC’s Ebola Emergency Response Director, said: “We have a lot of work to do to end this outbreak. But response organizations are shifting our ways of working, and we are on the right track. We recognize that major changes to response strategy will take time, and we give our full support to Ebola response coordinator David Gressly as he continues to work to ensure aid agencies with operational experience in North Kivu are being heard. As Ebola response leadership meets today in Geneva to continue this reevaluation, we encourage those involved to continue to make real community engagement and continued demilitarization of the response top priorities.”
“This is yet another positive opportunity towards turning around the response and setting us on track to stop the spread of this deadly disease,” he said.
Almost one year since the announcement of the outbreak, Ebola continues to spread, recently with an average of 10 to 15 cases per day. The epicenter of the outbreak has moved back to Beni, an area once thought cleared of the disease.
The Ebola Treatment Center and transit center in Beni are full, forcing suspected cases to remain at health clinics in isolation while they wait for space to become available.
As cases rise, distrust of Ebola response actors deteriorates. People are still afraid to come to health clinics if they are experiencing Ebola symptoms.
“Though the spread of the disease to Goma is a sign that the response still has work to do in gaining the trust of the local population, we welcome the progress that has been made over recent weeks to reset and reevaluate the response strategy,” said Riebl.
“We are pleased that our concerns around the response are being taken seriously by response leaders.”
The IRC has been responding to the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu since its declaration in August last year working in more than 70 health facilities and leading on infection prevention and control (IPC) and working in women’s and children’s protection, integrating Ebola-related protection concerns in areas where IRC supports primary health care services.