GENEVA – The World Health Organization says lessons learned from previous outbreaks of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo and effective therapeutics will allow it to more quickly contain a new outbreak of the deadly disease in Equateur Province.
U.N. health officials report there is no link between the Ebola outbreak declared June 1 in Mbandaka, Equateur Province, and the epidemic, which broke out nearly two years ago in DR Congo’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces.
They say the experience gained, however, and lessons learned from tackling this deadly disease in eastern DRC will help them to more quickly stop the spread of the virus in Equateur Province in the western part of the country.
WHO Emergency Operations Manager Michel Yao says the World Health Organization has more than 20 staff on the ground and is ready to send in more, if necessary. He tells VOA that the WHO is working with partners to set up treatment centers, to monitor risks and respond promptly to identify and trace new cases.
“Our objective this time is to work through local authorities that were already trained,” Yao said. “They had some experience. So, we have just to refresh and we have to remain behind coaching them. Lesson learned remain the critical one is to work through the community.”
The epidemic in eastern DRC, which has infected more than 3,460 people and killed 2,280, finally appears to be winding down. The latest reports from western DRC, where the outbreak has just started, put the number of confirmed and probable cases at 12, including nine deaths.
Two years ago, the same region was stricken with Ebola. It took less than four months to contain the outbreak with the help of an experimental vaccine, which provided protection against the virus.
Yao says the vaccines, which since have proven to be safe and effective, will help to speedily contain the virus. So far, he says, more than 600 people have been vaccinated in Mbandaka and Wangata health zones. He says 3,000 doses of the vaccine are in place and more are expected to be delivered soon.