Ebola Crisis in DRC Demands Immediate, Ongoing Investments
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province remains uncontrolled despite heroic efforts on the part of international and local responders. The spread of the disease continues to pose imminent risks of cross-border transmission. In its 11th month, the outbreak has claimed nearly 1,300 lives. We know from previous outbreaks, including the 2013 to 2016 Ebola crisis across West Africa, that the consequences of this outbreak to individuals, to communities, to health care access and to regional development will be felt long after the spread of disease is contained.
During the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva that concluded this week, representatives of the World Health Organization and the Democratic Republic of Congo noted continuing breakdowns in communication, data, and planning that hobble the ongoing response, as well as a gap of $28 million that is needed to bolster outbreak preparedness in the region. On Wednesday, World Health Organization Africa Regional Director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti noted that the challenges of ongoing violent conflict and political divisions in the affected area have presented responders with “one of the most complex health emergencies the world has faced.” The need for greatly increased resources and support for this response, as well as to strengthen capacities to detect, prevent and contain continuing infectious disease threats where they originate, is urgent.
On behalf of its members and other global health advocates, the Infectious Diseases Society of America delivered a World Health Assembly floor statement on Tuesday calling on world leaders to invest, responsively, proactively and immediately in collaborative efforts to strengthen health systems, increase community engagement and expand culturally appropriate interventions. In addition, the statement called for increased investments toward continued collaboration for supporting the advancement of Ebola vaccine candidates and tools that include mobile laboratories and rapid diagnostics.
IDSA and its HIV Medicine Association will continue to call on the administration and on Congress to ensure continued U.S. global health leadership with immediate and robust support for the ongoing Ebola response as well as for global health security and biomedical research efforts in the coming fiscal year.