The Ebola outbreak declared in August 2018 was the worst ever documented in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—and the second-largest Ebola outbreak recorded anywhere. Efforts to stop the spread of the disease were challenged on many fronts, including by the realities of fighting an epidemic in a conflict zone. It was the country's tenth outbreak of the deadly virus in 40 years.
On July 17, 2019, the World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo to be a public health emergency of international concern. At the request of the Ministry of Health (MoH), Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was part of the national task force coordinating the intervention based on several pillars of the Ebola response.
Violence and political unrest
The epicenter of the tenth Ebola outbreak was in North Kivu, a densely populated area in the country’s northeast. North Kivu shares a border with Uganda and is a hub for travel and trade, as well as human trafficking. North Kivu has also been an area of conflict for over 25 years, with more than 100 armed groups active in the region.
Violence and political unrest in the affected areas added additional barriers to accessing health care. Security constraints hindered the Ebola response, made it difficult to identify new cases, trace contacts, and conduct vital community outreach activities. Some health centers were also damaged or temporarily closed.