On 1st August 2018, an outbreak of Ebola was confirmed in Mabalako Health Zone in Mangina village situated in Beni Territory, North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The official declaration of Ebola epidemic by DRC National Ministry of Health initiated a response from WHO and other organizations from the health sector to attempt to stop the further spread of the disease and treat the affected. Unfortunately, these attempts have not been totally successful as Ebola continues to spread to several locations within the Beni territory region and Ituri Province. According to the WHO report on 30 October 2018, 244 persons have contracted Ebola and 144 deaths have occurred.
Members of the Health Cluster in Beni and Goma have formed committees that meet daily to update and reflect on ways to respond to the Ebola outbreak. As a result, vaccination systems have been reinforced and sensitization activities intensified in affected regions. Poor hygiene, poor vaccination uptake and false traditional beliefs on the cause of Ebola are contributing to spread. There are fears that the epidemic might spread towards Goma because of trade movements between Beni and Goma.
There remains an urgent need to intensify efforts to prevent and treat Ebola. One common effective way preventing its further spread is by placing hand washing points at strategic places to give opportunities for people to wash hands frequently and thus avoid spread of the virus. In addition, by increasing sensitization on how the disease is spread, it is believed that fewer people will get the infection.
Bureau Œcuménique d’Appui au Development (BOAD), a local DRC ACT Forum member and currently DRC ACT Forum convener, will respond to the Ebola epidemic, given BOAD’s experience in implementing humanitarian programs over the past several years. While BOAD will play a leading role in the Implementation of Ebola response project in DRC, the Church of Christ in Congo (ECC) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Congo (EELCO), both national/local ACT members, will contribute to the response by giving their respective expertise as they have also implemented similar projects in the past.
Activities will include awareness raising campaigns on Ebola transmission, training community/religious leaders and health agents on appropriate hygiene and sanitation practices and highlighting traditional practices that may be affecting the spread the virus.
In addition, posters with messages on Ebola symptoms and setting up hand washing kits at churches, markets and schools will be done. Media messages (broadcasting) on how to prevent the spread of Ebola will also be released. Psycho social support and counselling to affected persons and provision of non-food items will be done through a cash transfer program. To avoid exposing staff to the virus, staff working on the project will be trained on Ebola prevention.
ACT DRC national /local Forum members have jointly applied for a Rapid Response Fund in response to Ebola emergency namely BOAD, Eglise Evangelique Lutherienne au Congo (EELC) and Church of Christ in Congo (CCC).
Other ACT DRC members namely Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Norwegian Church Aid, Christian AID (CA), BOAD, Salvation Army, Eglise Evangelique Lutherienne du Congo (EELC) and Church of Christ in Congo (CCC) will jointly apply for an appeal in response to Ebola epidemic.