The tenth Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was declared terminated; Outbreak surveillance and support for survivors must continue

Today marks the tenth outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This long, complex and difficult outbreak has been overcome thanks to the leadership and commitment of the DRC Government, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), a multitude of partners, donors and, above all, the efforts of affected communities. by the virus

WHO congratulates everyone involved in the hard and often dangerous work required to end the outbreak, but stresses the need for vigilance. Continuing to support survivors and maintaining robust surveillance and response systems to contain potential outbreaks is critical in the coming months.

“The outbreak cost us all a lot, especially the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but we came out of it with valuable lessons and valuable tools. The world is now better equipped to respond to Ebola. A vaccine has been authorized, and treatments troops identified, “said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“We should celebrate this moment, but we must resist complacency. Viruses don’t take breaks. Ultimately, the best defense against any outbreak is to invest in a stronger health system as the basis for universal health coverage. ”

The outbreak, declared in North Kivu on August 1, 2018, was the second largest in the world and was particularly challenging as an active conflict zone took place. There were 3,470 cases, 2,287 deaths and 1,171 survivors.

Led by the DRC Government and the Ministry of Health and supported by WHO and its partners, the 22-month response involved training thousands of health workers, registering 250,000 contacts, analyzing 220 000 samples and equitable access to advanced patients. therapy, vaccinating over 303,000 people with the highly effective rVSV-ZEBOV-GP vaccine, and providing care to all survivors after recovery.

The response was reinforced by the commitment and leadership of the affected communities. Thanks to their efforts, this outbreak did not spread globally. More than 16,000 local front-line responders worked alongside the more than 1,500 people deployed by WHO. Donor support was essential, as was the work of UN partner agencies, national and international NGOs, research networks and partners deployed through the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. Hard work to develop preparedness capacities in neighboring countries also limited the risk of outbreak expansion.

Work will continue on the achievements of this response to address other health challenges, including measles and COVID-19.

“During the nearly two years that we have been fighting the Ebola virus, WHO and its partners helped strengthen the capacity of local health authorities to control outbreaks,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

“The DRC is now better, smarter and faster to respond to Ebola, and this is an enduring legacy that underpins the response to COVID-19 and other outbreaks.”

As countries around the world face the COVID-19 pandemic, the DRC response to Ebola provides valuable lessons. Many of the public health measures that have been successful in stopping Ebola are the same measures that are now essential to stop COVID-19: finding, isolating, testing, and caring for every case, and relentless tracking of contacts.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, community workers received training and a smartphone data collection application that allowed them to track contacts and report in real time rather than completing laborious reports on paper. Even when the violence blocked the cities, community workers, many of them local women, continued to track and trace contacts using the app, something that was crucial in ending this outbreak.

While this tenth outbreak in the DRC has ended, the fight against Ebola continues. On June 1, 2020, seven cases of Ebola were reported in the city of Mbandaka and in the neighboring Bikoro Health Zone in Equateur province, and an eleventh outbreak was declared. WHO supports the government-led response with more than 50 employees already deployed and more than 5,000 vaccines already administered.

WHO salutes the thousands of heroics who fought against one of the world’s most dangerous viruses in one of the world’s most unstable regions. Some health workers, including WHO experts, paid the final price and sacrificed their lives for the Ebola response.

WHO thanks the many partners who supported the government-led response

Note to editors

WHO thanks donors who provided funds to WHO for the Ebola response under the Strategic Response Plans:

African Development Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, China, Denmark, ECHO, European Commission / DEVCO, Gavi, Vaccine Alliance, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Paul Allen Foundation, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Susan T Buffett Foundation, DFID of the United Kingdom, CERF of the United Nations, USAID / OFDA, CDC of the USA, Wellcome Trust, World Bank, Emergency Financing Fund for Pandemics of the World Bank.

A number of donors also provided funds to the WHO Emergency Contingency Fund in recognition of the critical role the fund has played in responding to the Ebola outbreak.