United Kingdom’s International Development Secretary Rory Stewart has called on other countries to urgently help deal with the ongoing, deadly Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during a visit to the country, Chimp Corps report.
The outbreak – the world’s second worst ever – has killed over 1,600 people in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces in eastern DRC, since it started in August last year.
Ugandan authorities have since contained the Ebola outbreak which was spread by a boy who traveled from Eastern DRC.
During his visit, the Secretary of State talked to Ebola survivors and saw how current patients were receiving treatment in a UK aid funded clinic in Katwa, near the city of Butembo.
He also saw close contacts of Ebola patients receiving a vaccination, which funding from the Department for International Development (DFID) has helped to develop.
More than 150,000 people in the DRC and neighbouring countries have so far received the vaccine during the current outbreak.
The UK and the US are among the biggest donors to the crisis, which is the first major Ebola outbreak to take place in a conflict zone anywhere in the world, with armed groups operating in the region hampering response efforts.
But the International Development Secretary now wants other G7 members to step up to help meet the funding shortfall which the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners face as they try to contain the disease.
He raised the issue with the development ministers of the G7 countries at a summit in Paris last Thursday (July 4), before flying out to the DRC to see first-hand the devastating impact of the lethal disease.
He called on France, Japan and others to offer more financial support and will continue to push for further funding from other countries in meetings across Europe in the coming weeks.
“We are on the edge with this crisis. We keep pulling it back from the brink but it is very dangerous. My visit to eastern DRC has only reinforced my view about just how urgent our response to this crisis must be. This is very, very real,” said Secretary of State said during his visit to Butembo and Katwa on Saturday (July 6):
“We are essentially chasing Ebola – one of the world’s most deadly diseases – around an area overrun by armed groups. We are struggling to keep up with it.”
Stewart said DFID has funded the development of a vaccine which is helping to contain this.
“But one of the major reasons I went to the G7 development ministers meeting in Paris last week was to get other countries, like France, Japan and others to step up and provide more funding,” he emphasised.
“There is a real danger, that if we lose control of this outbreak, it could spread beyond DRC’s borders to the wider region and the wider world. Diseases like Ebola have no respect for borders and are a threat to us all.”