Ebola virus disease – Democratic Republic of the Congo
25 April 2019
This past week witnessed a notable escalation of security incidents surrounding the Ebola virus disease (EVD) response efforts. On 19 April, an attack on a hospital in Katwa by armed militia resulted in the tragic death of Dr Richard Mouzoko Kiboung, a WHO epidemiologist, and the injury of two other healthcare workers. To ensure the safety of all outbreak responders, Ebola response activities have been temporarily halted in some high-risk health areas until security measures can be reinforced.
WHO, the UN, and the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are actively collaborating to review current strategic and operational security measures to ensure the protection of healthcare workers in the field, and improve effective coordination and information sharing amongst all security elements covering the response. Existing operational security measures continue to be implemented and strengthened as well, including the establishment of security perimeters around the residences of EVD response personnel, increasing security at fixed locations, enhancing the joint quick response team (QRT) capacities of local police and UN security forces, and ensuring staff compliance with tracking procedures and adherence to curfew. These measures and other security risk management processes will be continually updated to reflect the needs of the evolving security situation on the ground.
In addition to revising security measures, efforts in community outreach through direct dialogue with various community leaders are also being intensified. Since January, there has been a notable increase in community resistance incidents, primarily around Katwa and Butembo. Incidents in April are anticipated to reach or go beyond March levels. As gaining community understanding and acceptance is integral to our ability to mount an effective outbreak response, community engagement efforts remain a significant element of our response to alleviate future security risks to healthcare workers, develop and increase local community capacity to ensure continuity of response operations, and improve the overall security situation in EVD hotspot areas…