Thu, Feb 28, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Ebola clinic attacked in DR Congo’s east


Healthcare workers’ gear dries outside a hospital in Bwana Suri, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on Dec. 10 last year.

Photo: Reuters

Assailants on Sunday night attacked an Ebola treatment center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DR Congo) eastern town of Katwa, killing one caretaker and injuring another as the country grapples to control the second-largest outbreak in recorded history, the Congolese Ministry of Public Health said on Tuesday.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) confirmed the attack on its facility in Katwa, saying that the patients, four confirmed with Ebola and six suspected cases, have been transferred to other centers for continued treatment.

All staff and patients are now secure, it said, adding that it deplores the death at the center.

The assailants burned down the treatment center, making it unusable for further treatments, MSF said.

The organization has been treating people in Katwa since December last year.

“It is unacceptable that some people have attacked the sick and health workers who are themselves members of the community,” Congolese Minister of Public Health Oly Ilunga Kalenga said.

One nurse died trying to escape and another has been hospitalized, he said.

“We salute the courage of the Congolese health workers who stayed with the ill all night until they were evacuated despite the risks,” he said.

The Katwa health zone is the DR Congo’s new epicenter for Ebola, he said, highlighting that the growth rate of new cases of Ebola has not receded over the past few weeks as the security situation also remains tenuous.

Katwa has been the most affected, with 239 cases of Ebola, of which 182 people have died, he added.

With 872 cases, including 807 confirmed and 483 confirmed deaths, this has become the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history, behind the west Africa outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people from 2014 to 2016.

The DR Congo’s east has multiple armed groups vying for control of the mineral-rich land. The insecurity and dense population have been major challenges in fighting against the nation’s 10th outbreak.

Resistance in Katwa to health workers has also slowed the fight there. It is not clear who attacked the center or why, but insecurity and community resistance are likely at the root of the attack.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday said that the situation in the DR Congo is unprecedented.

“There has never been an Ebola outbreak in these conditions, with such a highly mobile population and with many gaps in the health system,” he said. “The security context is another major concern. I am deeply saddened by reports that a health facility run by Medecins Sans Frontieres in Katwa was attacked on Sunday night.”

Tedros is to travel to the region next week, where more than 80,000 people have been vaccinated and more than 400 have received treatment, the WHO said.

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