Ebola vaccinations to begin in rural Democratic Republic of Congo
Ebola vaccinations to begin in rural Democratic Republic of Congo
Congo Ebola vaccination campaign rolled out
26 May, 2018, 20:27
Congo's Ministry of Health announced the dire news on the second day of vaccinations as authorities struggle to contain the virus in Mbandaka.
Exposure to the dead body, bodily fluids, and personal items of people who died of Ebola can spread the disease. "The priority of the government is to ensure that all these courageous health professionals can do their job safely".
Another concern, Salama said, was that five healthcare workers were among those infected. It was not immediately clear if the two deaths reported by MSF were confirmed Ebola ones. "One of the lessons we learned in our response to other deadly Ebola outbreaks is that complacency can kill".
The vaccination campaign will begin Monday in the rural areas of Bikoro and Iboko in the country's northwest, health ministry spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga told The Associated Press.
"First is the involvement of a town - Mbandaka - which is the capital of the Equateur Province in that region with a population of more than 1 million people", he added. Some 8,000 to 10,000 people will first receive the vaccine.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that a high level mission comprised of ministry of health and WHO visited Yambio, former Western Equatoria State on a sensitization campaign on Tuesday.
Four cases have been confirmed in the city's Wangata neighbourhood and two more are suspected.
A major challenge will be keeping the vaccines cold in this vast, impoverished, tropical country where infrastructure is poor. Those vaccinated are instructed to follow the same strict infection control and hygiene practices as anyone who is not vaccinated.
"It is going to be at least weeks and more likely months before we get this outbreak fully under control", Salama said.
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At the central market in Mbandaka, where vendors in colourful fabrics hawk smoked monkeys, some residents said they were unmoved by warnings not to consume bush meat since a case of Ebola was discovered in the city of 1.5 million last week. "But they rely on those other things, and we need to make sure that both are going in parallel".
Knowing who has been exposed to Ebola is also critical to the effectiveness of the new Ebola vaccine that has been deployed to Congo.
"Each one has the potential to expand if not controlled", Salama said.
"The risk of spreading within the country and to neighbouring nations remains real", said Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Only by finding every single Ebola case, and mapping and following every one of their contacts, and ensuring that the sick are isolated, can the epidemic be brought to halt, he said.
Border health officers monitored passengers arriving at Ngobila Beach in Kinshasa, which serves as the crossing from Brazzaville, Republic of Congo into Congo.
Mbandaka is an hour's flight from Kinshasa and several days' travel by barge.
It would be impractical and counter-productive to ask security guards, who are not equipped with protective gear, to forcibly restrain patients, said Nahid Bhadelia, medical director of the special pathogens unit at Boston University Medical Center, who worked in an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone during its 2014-2016 outbreak. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding.
The cases represent a setback to costly efforts to contain the virus, including the use of experimental vaccines, and shows efforts to stem its spread can be hampered by age-old customs or scepticism about the threat it poses.
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