The 10th outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ended on Thursday, June 25, 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
The UN health body described the outbreak as “long, complex and difficult” and was overcome due to its leadership and commitment and those of the Government of the DRC, a multitude of partners, donors, as well as the efforts of the communities affected by the virus.
The WHO lauded all those involved in “the arduous and often dangerous work required to end the outbreak”, stressing the need for vigilance. It added that continuing to support survivors and maintaining strong surveillance and response systems to contain potential flare-ups is critical in the months to come.
“The outbreak took so much from all of us, especially from the people of DRC, but we came out of it with valuable lessons, and valuable tools. The world is now better equipped to respond to Ebola. A vaccine has been licensed, and effective treatments identified,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“We should celebrate this moment, but we must resist complacency. Viruses do not take breaks. Ultimately, the best defence against any outbreak is investing in a stronger health system as the foundation for universal health coverage.”
The outbreak, declared in North Kivu on August 1, 2018, was the second largest in the world, and was particularly challenging as it took place an active conflict zone. There were 3,470 cases, 2,287 deaths and 1,171 survivors.
Led by the DRC Government and the Ministry of Health and supported by WHO and partners, the more than 22-month-long response involved training thousands of health workers, registering 250,000 contacts, testing 220,000 samples, providing patients with equitable access to advanced therapeutics, vaccinating over 303,000 people with the highly effective rVSV-ZEBOV-GP vaccine, and offering care for all survivors after their recovery.
“During the almost two years we fought the Ebola virus, WHO and partners helped strengthen the capacity of local health authorities to manage outbreaks,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
“The DRC is now better, smarter and faster at responding to Ebola and this is an enduring legacy which is supporting the response to COVID-19 and other outbreaks.”