Ebola virus

Backslide in vaccine rates puts Congelese youth at risk

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

The UN children's agency, Unicef, says a reduction in vaccination rates in the Democratic Republic of Congo could erase the gains made from immunisation over the past two years.

Unicef said vaccinations were already declining at the beginning of this year, and that the effects of coronavirus will make it worse.

Health workers lack equipment to protect themselves or the children from Covid-19, and parents are afraid to bring them to vaccination centres.

Hundreds of thousands of children have not received polio, measles, yellow fever and other vaccines.

DR Congo might lose its polio-free status and there could be a resurgence of other deadly diseases.

The country has been affected by decades of conflict and an Ebola epidemic.

Unicef is worried that the effects of coronavirus could now push it over the edge.

Manhunt for Ebola escapee in DR Congo

Gaius Kowene

BBC News, Kinshasa

An Ebola health worker in DR Congo in protective gear
More than 2,200 have died in the country's worst-ever outbreak of the virus

The World Health Organization (WHO) is worried that an Ebola patient who escaped from a health centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo last week is spreading the disease.

Community workers are searching for the man and encouraging people not to hide him.

Health workers wearing protective gear are standing by to take him back to the clinic in the eastern town of Beni.

The fugitive is one of six people who tested positive at a time when DR Congo was preparing to declare the Ebola epidemic over earlier this month.

More than 2,200 people have died since the outbreak began in 2018

New deaths mean DRC still not free from Ebola

Two people die of Ebola on the weekend the country was meant to be declared disease-free
On Sunday, the Democratic Republic of Congo was supposed to declare itself free of Ebola. The outbreak of the virus has killed more than 2,000 people since August 2018 and Sunday would have marked the official point when no cases of the disease had been reported for 7 weeks. 

But then on Friday the news nobody wanted to hear - a man had died of Ebola in the city of Beni. He was an electrician. Then more bad news over the weekend as an 11-year-girl also died. 

Health workers who tried to cleanse the electrician's house were pelted with stones by his neighbours. Frank Abeille, the Ebola co-ordinator for UNICEF in DR Congo, says he understands their frustration.

(Photo: A United Nations peacekeeper has his shoes cleaned with a chlorine solution before leaving an Ebola treatment centre in Mangina, North Kivu province.  Credit: AFP)

Hopes dashed in DR Congo as new Ebola case reported

Anne Soy

Senior Africa correspondent, BBC News

Health workers in a treatment facility
More than 2,200 have died in the country's worst-ever outbreak of the virus

Just two days before the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo was to be declared over, the World Health Organization (WHO) says a new case has been confirmed.

More than 3,400 people have been infected and 2,200 have died since the outbreak was announced in eastern DR Congo nearly two years ago.

The authorities were preparing to declare the epidemic over on Sunday.

But it now has to continue fighting Ebola as well as Covid-19 and measles.

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DR Congo battles five diseases

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

A toddler undergoes a measles vaccination at a centre in western DR Congo on 3 March.
DR Congo needs to invest more in its health system, Unicef says

The United Nations children’s agency (Unicef) says the Democratic Republic of Congo’s healthcare system needs urgent support or children's futures will be destroyed.

The vast, conflict-ridden country is struggling to cope with five deadly diseases – malaria, measles, cholera, coronavirus and ebola.

Last year, 16.5 million malaria cases were reported in DR Congo. It suffered the world’s worst measles epidemic, which killed thousands of children under five.

Cholera is endemic – there were more than 30,000 cases last year.

DR Congo is also trying to contain an outbreak of Ebola disease in the country's east, where dozens of militias operate and one million people have been displaced.

And now there’s Covid-19. Although the number of cases is relatively low, there are fears of a catastrophe if it takes off.

Unicef has called on the government of this mineral-rich country to allocate more resources to the failing health system.

If not, it says, the lives of many Congolese children will be destroyed by preventable diseases.

'Fear and panic' as Sierra Leone awaits Covid-19

Five years after the Ebola crisis, is the country prepared for coronavirus?
Sierra Leone in West Africa has put in place travel restrictions to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. 
The BBC's Umaru Fofana was at a press conference given by President Julius Maada Bio. 
He told Newsday how lessons from the Ebola outbreak may be used in the fight against Covid-19.  

(Picture: Empty treatment beds following the Ebola crisis; Credit: Getty Images)

Coronavirus: learning lessons from Ebola

Dr Mosoko led Liberia's efforts to contain Ebola - now he's preparing for coronavirus
Dr Mosoka Fallah is an infectious-disease expert who led Liberia's efforts to contain Ebola in the outbreak which started in 2014. Now he's using the lessons he learnt then, to prepare the country for a potential coronavirus epidemic. 

(Photo: Dr Mosoka Fallah outside a hospital in Liberia. Credit: Hugh Kinsella Cunningham/ AFP)

Ebola vaccine licensed in four African nations

DR Congo, Burundi, Ghana and Zambia can now distribute it

A health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province, August 18, 2018
The Ervebo vaccine has 97.5% efficacyrate (file photo)

Four African countries - the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Ghana and Zambia - have licensed and can now distribute an Ebola vaccine, which the World Heath Organization (WHO) has hailed as a "milestone".

Preliminary study results indicate the Ervebo vaccine, manufactured by Merck, has a 97.5% efficacy rate. Data also suggests that vaccinating people who are already infected reduces their chances of dying.

DR Congo is currently battling an Ebola outbreak, which has killed 2,249 people since August 2018.

"The approval of the Ebola vaccine by these countries is another milestone in the fight against this unforgiving disease," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"Africa has rallied to cement hard-fought progress to keep its people safe from Ebola," he added.

Ebola 'emergency status' extended in DR Congo

BBC World Service

A man receives a vaccine in Goma, eastern DR Congo, in 2019.
Insecurity in the east of the country threatens eradication efforts

The World Health Organization (WHO) has extended by three months the designation of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a global health emergency.

WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said the potential remained for a much larger epidemic as long as there was a single case of the disease in an area as insecure as eastern DR Congo.

The outbreak was declared a global health emergency in July 2019 after a patient died in the provincial capital Goma - the first case in a major city.

More than 2,300 people have died since the outbreak began in 2018.

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