Friday, June 15, 2018

MSF Appeals for Financial Assistance to Fight Ebola in DRC
Southern Times
June 15, 2018
Colleta Dewa

Johannesburg - Doctors Without Borders in Southern Africa has appealed for financial assistance to help the Ebola-hit Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a statement sent to The Southern Times, MSF said the move is aimed at assisting in providing needed health care facilities to the affected communities.

“Since the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was declared on 8 May 2018, 54 people who presented symptoms of haemorrhagic fever, including 35 confirmed Ebola cases and 25 deaths (of whom 12 were confirmed as Ebola), have been notified by the national health authorities in the Equateur region, where the outbreak started.

“To this effect, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Southern Africa has launched an appeal to raise funds to fight the Ebola outbreak in DRC. Every second counts, every patient matters, every donation is vital,” said MSF.

MSF says the funds will assist their team in the DRC in executing the intervention, which is based on six pillars.

The pillars include care of diagnosed patients and isolation; outreach activities to find patients; trace and follow-up with patient contacts; health promotion activities to inform people about the risks and how to avoid them; support of regular health care as well as safe burials to avoid infections.

The outbreak is currently affecting the city of Mbandaka and the health zones of Bikoro (Bikoro and Iboko villages), and Iboko (Itipo and Iboko villages).

Bikoro is a small city where some Ebola cases have been detected that is approximately four hours’ drive from Mbandaka. Connections with Bikoro are also possible via Lake Tumba, which the local community uses to reach the Congo River.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in DRC in the last 40 years.

“So far, most of the previous outbreaks have occurred in relatively remote and isolated areas, with little spread of the disease. The last Ebola outbreaks in DRC occurred in Likati district in May 2017, with eight people infected, of whom four died, and in Boende (Thsuapa region) in 2014, with 66 people, of whom 49 died.

MSF’s first priority has been to provide isolation units to content patients and bring the infection under control. Because Ebola is so contagious, patients must remain in these units and be cared for inside. Even family members are normally not allowed to visit the patients,” added the organisation.

MSF says patients are being given intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration, maintaining blood pressure, providing nutritional supplements and pain relief, all of which help the patient’s own system to fight the disease.

To tackle the Ebola epidemic and limit the spread of the virus, MSF) is stepping up its response in the affected areas.  MSF emergency teams are present in four locations where suspected and confirmed patients have been identified, and are working in collaboration with the DRC’s Ministry of Health (MoH) and the WHO.

“The organisation currently operates two Ebola Treatment Centres (ETC), with a total of 32 beds in isolation, and one transit centre in Itipo. As of 29 May, we are currently caring for 19 patients.  Around 60 tonnes of supplies have been shipped to Kinshasa and dispatched to the affected areas since the beginning of the epidemic.” 

According to MSF, when the Ebola epidemic was officially declared on 8 May, experts from their organisation emergency pools arrived in the field to deploy a rapid response in the hotspots.

In addition to the treatment and isolation of suspected and confirmed Ebola cases, focus is also vital in the surveillance, investigation of new cases and contacts, infection control and prevention, health promotion and training activities.

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