WITH the first reported case of Ebola emerging this week in Goma, a populous city in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC, next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi, medical care providers and public health advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AHF, are speaking out loudly—declaring that the time has come for immediate action from World Health Organization, WHO, Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – who, by his own admission, stated that this new revelation about the Goma case is a “game- changer.”
As of July 12, there have been 2,477 Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, that have resulted in 1,655 deaths. In addition, the virus spread to neighboring Uganda, where as of June 24, there have been a total of three confirmed cases of Ebola. All three individuals had recently travelled to the DRC, and all succumbed to the disease.
Despite the gravity and sheer number of these Ebola cases and deaths—including now
a case found in a major city such as Goma—WHO has yet to declare a Public Health
Emergency of International Concern, PHEIC.
“AHF issued a public statement on June 20 th calling for Dr. Tedros to resign within thirty
days if he did not present a timely and effective plan for turning around the Ebola
response,” said Michael Weinstein, AHF president. “We’re now one week out from that
thirty-day mark, and the outbreak just took a disastrous turn by turning up in Goma, a
city with nearly two million people. If we don’t see an immediate stepped up response
by World Health Organization officials, Tedros must step down.”
AHF operates healthcare programs in two countries currently being threatened by the
outbreak—Uganda and Rwanda. Despite lessons learned from the West Africa Ebola
catastrophe of 2014, infrastructure—including basic medical equipment and
supplies—is still not sufficient to adequately handle a growing outbreak.
“We recently donated thirty-thousand dollars’ worth of medical supplies to Uganda after
Ebola cases were reported there to help protect our own staff and programs, but to also
highlight the fact that medical workers are simply not equipped or prepared to safely do
their jobs,” added AHF Africa Bureau Chief Dr. Penninah Iutung. “It is
incomprehensible that we are watching history repeat itself—over eleven thousand
people died from the outbreak between 2014 and 2016—and we are rocketing towards
those same numbers today. If WHO and Tedros can’t get this outbreak under control,
someone else must assume command.”
In addition to demanding accountability from Tedros and WHO, AHF also calls for a
PHEIC to be immediately declared, as the outbreak has met both conditions—a “public
health risk to other States through the international spread of disease” and “to
potentially require a coordinated international response.” Ebola is a world problem, not
an Africa problem. The appropriate international attention and resources must be
allocated to the response before thousands more needlessly lose their lives.
– July 16, 2019 @ 18:55 GMT |