MSF: Ebola epidemic not under control, urgent change of strategy needed

Democratic Republic of Congo 2018 © John Wessels

NEW YORK, APRIL 12, 2019—The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) made the following statement after the World Health Organization decided today to not declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern for the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

More than eight months into the outbreak, the situation is alarming. The number of new reported cases has significantly increased over the past few weeks, reaching its highest levels since the declaration of the epidemic. Last week, 40 percent of the newly reported cases are people who died in the community before they could be identified as Ebola patients and offered care.

Gwenola Seroux, emergency manager at MSF, said the following about today's decision:

“Whatever the official status of this outbreak is, it is clear that the outbreak is not under control and therefore we need a better collective effort. The virus has not spread to neighboring countries so far, but the possibility exists.

"What is most important now if we want to gain control of this epidemic is to change the way we are dealing with it. We need to adapt our intervention to the needs and expectations of the population, to integrate Ebola activities in the local healthcare system, to engage effectively with the communities, and to further explore promising vaccinations to strengthen prevention.

"Choices must be given back to patients and their families on how to manage the disease—for example, by allowing people to seek healthcare in their local centers rather than in an Ebola Treatment Center (ETC). We owe this to our patients.”