DRC’s Ebola Outbreak Poses Specific Challenges For Control Efforts

Foreign Policy: Welcome to the First War Zone Ebola Crisis
Laurie Garrett, former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations

“The signs of a coming Ebola crisis are mounting. The disease is spreading rapidly in a region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where health care workers have been facing unprecedented violent attacks, both by insurgent militants and anxious locals. Nevertheless, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the confounding announcement on Wednesday that he will not declare the outbreak a ‘public health emergency of international concern.’ … Although Tedros and the WHO decided there is no need to declare an international emergency at this time, forestalling the delivery of additional medical and public health personnel and logistic and supplies support from multiple U.N. agencies, there is reason to be deeply concerned about this situation. It is the first Ebola outbreak in a war zone. … Meanwhile, by ordering U.S. government personnel to retreat from the epidemic, the [U.S.] State Department has made a unilateral decision regarding the security threats in the region. … In the absence of U.S. engagement, the WHO must take a political lead … by pulling national security and legal experts into immediate planning should a worst-case security breach occur. … Unfortunately, Tedros’s advisers, who suggested he avoid declaring a public health emergency, have already shown how little they know about the region’s devastating carnage and warfare” (10/18).

Washington Post: Why this strain of Ebola will be far more difficult to stop
Lindsay Scorgie-Porter, assistant professor of political science at Huron University College

“…This latest Ebola outbreak was first reported in August. Health officials have registered 220 cases, nearly two-thirds of them proving fatal. The affected border region covers much of eastern Congo and part of western Uganda. Three factors make responding to this Ebola outbreak enormously challenging: 1. There is little trust in the government … 2. The [Allied Democratic Forces (ADF)] and other rebels make the region unsettled … 3. Ebola can easily traverse eastern Congo’s many cross-border networks … Ultimately any one of these three factors — lack of state legitimacy, rebel violence, and cross-border migration — would make containing Ebola’s spread difficult. With all three factors in play, Ebola continues to be a serious concern for the region and beyond” (10/19).

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