UNICEF mobilises community workers to fight DR Congo Ebola

Kinshasa, DR Congo (PANA) – Scaling up in response to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the UN children's fund (UNICEF), with the DRC Government and partners, is mobilizing hundreds of community workers to raise awareness among children and families of how to protect themselves against the disease.

The community workers will also play a crucial role in providing communities with information on the Ebola vaccination campaign, planned to start next week, the UNICEF said in a statement on Friday.

The community workers, deployed to Bikoro and Mbandaka health zones, aim to help contain the spread of the outbreak through information campaigns, social mobilization and community engagement, including disseminating information through radio, religious institutions, markets, schools and youth associations.

“It is crucial that communities understand how to protect themselves at home and in public places, especially in health facilities and schools,” said Dr. Gianfranco Rotigliano, UNICEF Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “Experience in previous outbreaks has shown that when we engage communities in prevention efforts, we stand the best chance of containing the disease.”

In addition to public information campaigns, UNICEF has provided supplies for water and hygiene, including water purification tablets to the Ebola Treatment Centers and communities in Bikoro and Mbandaka, and installed disinfection points in four further health facilities.

Hand-washing points have also been installed in 50 targeted schools in affected areas in Mbandaka, and an additional 72 schools in Bikoro will soon receive hand-washing equipment. Schools are being equipped with thermometers to monitor the health status of children.

“We will do everything we can to make schools safe and ensure that children’s education is not disrupted,” said Dr. Rotigliano.

Since the declaration of the Ebola outbreak by the Minister of Health on 8 May 2018, UNICEF has deployed 4585 kg of supplies, including soap, tarpaulins, buckets and chlorine to support water, sanitation and hygiene activities. Some 80 metric tons of aid, including health and water, sanitation and hygiene supplies are being shipped from Sierra Leone to the DRC to support the response.

An emergency meeting of United Nations health experts said on Friday that the Ebola outbreak in north-west Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – where cases of the deadly disease have been confirmed in an urban area ­– does not yet meet the criteria to be deemed a “public health emergency of international concern”.  

But the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee advised the DRC Government and all other actors to remain engaged in a “vigorous response” and called on the international community to support efforts on the ground.

“Without this, the situation is likely to deteriorate significantly,” read the Public Health Advice issued by the Committee, which also called for global solidarity among the scientific community and for international data to be shared freely and regularly.

An outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) was declared in a remote town in DRC’s Equateur province on 8 May. Since then at least one case has been confirmed outside the initial zone.

The new case of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Mbandaka, a city with a population of about 1.2 million, WHO confirmed on Thursday, raising fears that despite a rapid response by authorities, the outbreak has not been contained.

WHO said so far, 25 have reportedly died. Until Thursday, the more than 45 suspected or confirmed cases were all located in the area around Bikoro, close to the Congo River, and around 150 kilometres (about 95 miles) from the provincial capital Mbandaka, which is a busy port city. Three health care workers have been affected.
-0- PANA MA 19May2018

19 mai 2018 04:41:53

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