The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo must be declared a global emergency, international development secretary Rory Stewart has warned.
The MP said that recognizing the 10-month outbreak as a global health need would provide more resources to be used to bring the dead to an end.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) has already rejected the proposal three times for reasons of economic difficulties, despite the fact that it is & # 39; deeply concerned & # 39; is.
According to Stewart, agencies are struggling to control the deadly virus because of large funding shortages – and there is a risk that it will spread to the rest of the world.
He urged the other members to do more to help the Congo, in particular a life-saving vaccination program.
During a two-day visit, Mr. Stewart said the impact of the virus on the DRC & # 39; heartbreaking & # 39; used to be. A total of 1,625 people have died since August last year.
Rory Stewart, the international development minister, warned that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo should be declared a global emergency
The MP said the outbreak & # 39; very dangerous & # 39; is on a two-day visit to the DRC, where 1,625 people have been killed by the killer virus since August last year
Mr. Stewart said: & # 39; We are on the verge of this crisis. We keep pulling it off the edge, but it's very dangerous.
& # 39; My visit to the east of the DRC has only strengthened my opinion on how urgent our response to this crisis should be. This is very, very real.
& # 39; We're actually chasing Ebola – one of & # 39; the world's most deadly diseases – around an area crossed by armed groups. We are struggling to keep up.
& # 39; There is a real danger that if we lose control of this outbreak, it could spread beyond the borders of the DRC to the wider region and the rest of the world. Diseases such as Ebola have no respect for borders and pose a threat to all of us. & # 39;
In an interview with The Guardian, Mr. Stewart said that he encourages the WHO to declare a global public health emergency, partly because it will make it easier to raise extra money.
WHY IS THIS EPIDEMIC NOT AN INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY?
A panel from the World Health Organization decided on 14 June to declare an international state of emergency for the third time on the Ebola epidemic in Congo.
In a statement, the WHO said that there was & # 39; deep concern & # 39; and the response is still hampered by a lack of adequate funding and tense staff.
The cases in Uganda were not unexpected. & # 39; The rapid response and initial containment, however, is evidence of the importance of preparedness in neighboring countries & # 39 ;, said the WHO.
& # 39; At the same time, the export of cases to Uganda reminds that as long as this outbreak in the DRC continues, there is a risk of spreading to neighboring countries, although the risk of spreading to countries outside the region remains low. & # 39;
The panel decided that the outbreak was a health necessity and an & # 39; extraordinary event & # 39; in the DRC, but does not meet all three criteria for a PHEIC.
The definition implies a situation that is:
- serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected.
- has consequences for public health outside the national border of the affected state.
- may require immediate international action.
He said: & # 39; This is definitely a public health emergency. When you talk to someone who is dealing with the disease, health workers get up because people even get Ebola cancer with protective gear and the stories are heartbreaking. & # 39;
In June, the WHO came under pressure for the third time to declare the outbreak as a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency or International Concern), a formal statement made only four times in history.
It followed the death of three people with Ebola in Uganda, the first cross-border infection from Congo that had experienced the outbreak.
A group of health officials met urgently at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, but hours later said a PHEIC was rejected because the situation did not meet all the criteria.
& # 39; It was the committee's opinion that there is really nothing to be gained by declaring a PHEIC, but there is a lot to lose & # 39 ;, said Dr. Preben Aavitsland, the acting chairman of the panel, in a press conference.
The health agency said it was not eligible to be considered as one in April because it was only a threat in the DRC.
International dissemination is one of the most important criteria that the WHO considers before declaring a situation as a global health emergency.
Explaining a PHEIC would be a major shift in the attention that is being paid internationally to the fight against the disease.
Mr. Stewart said there was a critical lack of money, which would amount to a financing deficit of $ 100 million (£ 80 million) and $ 300 million (£ 240 million) by the end of the year.
He said that the only reason that there are not thousands more are dead because of British funding contributions.
The international development department will not reveal how much money the UK has contributed, but claims it is one of the largest donors together with the US.
International development secretary Rory Stewart is presented as a guest employee of the World Health Organization in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Mr. Stewart said that money & # 39; central & # 39; is for controlling the epidemic, largely to finance a ring vaccination strategy. On the photo, a health professional administering a vaccine in Uganda
Mr. Stewart said that the only reason why there are not thousands more dead is due to UK funding contributions. In the photo, a child who receives a vaccination in the Democratic Republic of Congo
WHICH CLASSES AS AN INTERNATIONAL HEALTH EMERGENCY?
The World Health Organization has only provoked a public health need of international concern (PHEIC) four times in the past, according to The Telegraph.
These were during the last major Ebola outbreak in 2014, the Mexican flu outbreak in 2009, a revival of Polio in 2014 and the Zika outbreak in South America in 2016.
The WHO Emergency Committee must meet to decide on the severity of a disease outbreak and the threat it poses to other countries before declaring a PHEIC. These are the incidents that in the past took it seriously enough:
2009 Mexican flu epidemic
In 2009, & # 39; Mexican flu & # 39; identified and named for the first time in Mexico because it is a virus similar to a virus that affects pigs. The outbreak is believed to have killed as many as 575,400 people – the H1N1 strain is now accepted as normal seasonal flu.
2014 Poliovirus recovery
Poliovirus began to resurface in countries where it had once been eradicated and the WHO called for a widespread vaccination program to stop the spread. Cameroon, Pakistan and Syria ran the greatest risk of spreading the disease internationally.
Ebola outbreak in 2014
Ebola has killed at least 11,000 people worldwide after it spread like wildfire through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2014, 2015 and 2016. More than 28,000 people are infected in the worst outbreak ever of the disease.
2016 Zika outbreak
Zika, a tropical disease that can cause serious birth defects if it infects pregnant women, was the subject of an outbreak in the Brazilian capital Rio de Janeiro in 2016. There were fears that the Olympic Games of that year would have to be canceled after more than 200 . academics wrote about it to the World Health Organization.
According to the Guardian, Mr. Stewart said that European countries with links to the DRC & # 39; remarkably few & # 39; had given money, suggesting, for example, that France had provided only $ 1 million (£ 800,000).
If there is a shortage in the funds received, agencies will not be able to sustain the response on the current scale.
Mr. Stewart said: & # 39; It's a very expensive answer because the local systems just aren't there … The money is central. & # 39;
Money is largely needed to continue implementing & # 39; ring vaccination & # 39 ;, a strategy of immunization that is highly efficient during Ebola outbreaks, according to the WHO.
The experimental vaccine, known as RVSV-ZEBOV, was first tried four years ago during Ebola pandemic, killing more than 11,300 people.
The strategy works by giving jabs to people most likely to be infected by their connections with a patient with the virus, such as a family member, who has a & # 39; ring & # 39; vaccination around a victim.
The tenth ever outbreak of Ebola in the DRC, which began in the northeastern province of North Kivu, causes fever, uncontrollable bleeding and organ failure.
The reaction has been delayed by a large number of problems, including attacks by armed rebels – some of whom are believed to be linked to the Islamic State – that endanger the lives of the local population and aid workers.
Armed militia allegedly believe that Ebola is a conspiracy against them and have repeatedly attacked health workers who are fighting the epidemic.
Even innocent local people make the answer difficult because many have great distrust of governments and volunteers in Western health care, often fueled by rumors.
Mr. Stewart said he had visited a health care clinic that had built a sandbag area that could be used to hide from armed groups if they ever attacked.
He said: & # 39; This is an area where most of the work has to go to convincing health workers, even to wear their protective clothing, to convince villagers to come forward to be vaccinated, and to convince armed groups not to kill doctors. We are struggling to keep up with this. & # 39;
Mr. Stewart added that it is essential to keep the outbreak concentrated only in Butembo and Beni, where there are 254 and 424 cases respectively.
During his visit, the State Secretary spoke to Ebola survivors and saw how current patients were being treated at a UK-funded clinic in Katwa, near the city of Butembo.
When it reaches Goma, it is densely populated DRC city of Goma on the border with Rwanda, there is potential for the virus to spread.
Neighboring countries South Sudan, Rwanda and Uganda are also on & # 39; great vigilance & # 39; and, according to health ministries, are scaling up their research centers and surveillance systems.
WHAT EBOLA IS AND HOW IS IT DEADLY?
Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever, killed at least 11,000 worldwide after decimating West Africa and spreading rapidly over the course of two years.
That epidemic was officially declared back in January 2016, when Liberia was announced by the WHO as Ebola-free.
The country, startled by the civil wars from start to finish that ended in 2003, was hit hardest by the fever, with 40 percent of the deaths that took place there.
Sierra Leone reported the highest number of Ebola cases, with nearly all infected residents of the nation.
WHERE IS IT STARTED?
An analysis, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found the outbreak began in Guinea – which neighbors Liberia and Sierra Leone.
A team of international researchers reduced the epidemic to a two-year-old boy in Meliandou – about 400 miles (650 km) from the capital, Conakry.
Emile Ouamouno, better known as Patient Zero, may have contracted the deadly virus by playing with bats in a hollow tree, a study suggested.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE STRUCK DOWN?
|COUNTRY||CASES||DIALS||DEATH RATE (%)|
|SENEGAL||1||0||N / A|
|SPAIN||1||0||N / A|
|UK||1||0||N / A|
|ITALY||1||0||N / A|
The figures show that almost 29,000 people have been infected by Ebola – which means that the virus killed around 40 percent of the people affected.
Cases and deaths were also reported in Nigeria, Mali and the US – but on a much smaller scale, with 15 deaths between the three nations.
Health officials in Guinea reported a mysterious bug in the southeastern region of the country before the WHO confirmed it was Ebola.
Ebola was first identified by scientists in 1976, but the most recent outbreak magnified all others recorded in history, showing the numbers.
HOW MAN MANAGED VIRUS?
Scientists believe that ebola is usually passed on to humans through bats, but antelopes, porcupines, gorillas, and chimpanzees may also be to blame.
It can be transmitted between people through blood, secretions, and other body fluids from people – and surfaces – that are infected.
IS THERE A TREATMENT?
The WHO warns that there is no & # 39; proven treatment & # 39; is for Ebola – but dozens of drugs and injections are being tested in the event of a similar devastating outbreak.
However, there is hope, after an experimental vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, protected nearly 6,000 people. The results are published in the The Lancet magazine.
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