Health

UN Expected to Declare Ebola International Emergency

The United Nation’s World Health Organization is set to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to consider declaring Ebola disease in Democratic Republic of Congo an international emergency.

World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Fadela Chaib said the crisis meeting is going to take place at the agency headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, earlier said the aim of the meeting is for DRC representatives, UN health experts and partners to decide whether the situation warrants declaring an international emergency, guided by International Health Regulations.

“They will talk about vaccinations, health workers, community engagement, epidemiological trends, you know, everything will be discussed,” said Ms. Chaib.

This is the fourth time the emergency panel will have met during the current outbreak, and it follows confirmation that the disease has been identified in Goma, a city of two million people that borders Rwanda.

Every month, an estimated 1,100 people cross the border into Rwanda, according to WHO.

Underscoring the significance of the emergency panel’s deliberations, Ms. Chaib noted that the Committee “would like to avoid putting a country in isolation…in a way that might impede the response”.

Regardless of the Committee’s decision, measures are already in place to prevent the transmission of Ebola from DRC across its vast borders.

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“What we have for the neighboring countries of DRC is preparedness plans, for nine countries around DRC,” Ms. Chaib said.

“What we do is send teams to work with the national authorities, to check their stages of preparedness. For example, they will check if they have the ability to test Ebola cases in their laboratories.”

 

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