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Ebola Aid Workers Working Under 'Terrifying Conditions' Amid Armed Attacks On Health Centres

HuffPost UK logo HuffPost UK 4 days ago Jasmin Gray
a man wearing a uniform standing in front of a building: Medical workers in protective clothings work in the Ebola isolation zone at a makeshift health clinic run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders at the village of Kampungu, near Kananga in western Kasai province in south-central Democratic Republic of Congo, some 700 km (435 miles) east of the capital Kinshasa, September 18, 2007. The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday said it had confirmed typhoid in the area of  Democratic Republic of Congo where health experts are working to fight an outbreak of deadly Ebola haemorrhagic fever.  Picture taken September 18, 2007.  REUTERS/MSF/Frederic Patigny/Handout (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO) © Ho New / Reuters Medical workers in protective clothings work in the Ebola isolation zone at a makeshift health clinic run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders at the village of Kampungu, near Kananga in western Kasai province in south-central Democratic Republic of Congo, some 700 km (435 miles) east of the capital Kinshasa, September 18, 2007. The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday said it had confirmed typhoid in the area of Democratic Republic of Congo where health experts are working to fight an outbreak of deadly Ebola haemorrhagic fever. Picture taken September 18, 2007. REUTERS/MSF/Frederic Patigny/Handout (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)

Aid workers helping to tackle the ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo are working under “terrifying” conditions amid violent attacks on health centres, the government has warned.

World Health Organisation figures suggest that since the outbreak began in August 2018, 1,632 cases of the deadly disease have been confirmed in the country, while 1,048 people have died.

But Rory Stewart – who was named international development secretary earlier this month – warned that amid the epidemic, health centres were being attacked by armed gangs.

A healthcare worker sprays a room during a funeral of Kavugho Cindi Dorcas who is suspected of dying of Ebola in Beni, North Kivu Province of Democratic Republic of Congo © Reuters A healthcare worker sprays a room during a funeral of Kavugho Cindi Dorcas who is suspected of dying of Ebola in Beni, North Kivu Province of Democratic Republic of Congo

“Ebola is back,” Stewart said in a video published on Twitter on Wednesday.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the frontline health workers,” he continued.

© Reuters

“It’s terrifying operating in the eastern Congo at the moment, partly because of the number of armed groups that are attacking those health centres.”

It comes after the International Rescue Committee – led by former Labour MP David Miliband – warned that three of its health centre triages had been burned down in recent months.

Meanwhile, the government in the DRC has urged countries donating money to the crisis response not to publicise the amount over fears that it will put frontline health workers at greater risk of attack.

Medical staff check each others protective suits © Getty Medical staff check each others protective suits Miliband, who recently returned from a trip to the DRC, described the ebola outbreak as an “unprecedented challenge” for the country – but warned that the committee had been forced to scale down its response following a series of “targeted and alarming attacks”.

“This ebola outbreak, taking place in an area of active conflict with widespread poverty and deep political divisions, is an unprecedented challenge for the government and people of DRC, and for the international community,” he said.

“The situation is far more dangerous than the statistic of 1,000 deaths… and the suspension of key services threatens to create a lethal inflection point in the trajectory of the disease.”

Miliband added: “The danger is that the number of cases spirals out of control, despite a proven vaccine and treatment.”

The UK government estimates that, to date, more than 114,000 people have been vaccinated against the disease in the DRC.

The outbreak has been classes as the “second worst in history”. Between 2013 and 2016, more than 11,000 people died in an ebola epidemic in West Africa. 

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