Ebola preparedness and response
(Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda)
Ebola preparedness and response:
|People to be reached with Ebola messages through community engagement and interpersonal communication in four countries
| People receiving hygiene and prevention kits
| Funding requirements for the response across five countries
Strengthening community ownership and preventing the infection of more children
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the world’s second largest and deadliest Ebola outbreak on record and the first in an active conflict zone, with over 3,000 confirmed cases, including more than 900 children, and over 2,000 deaths.
The risk that the outbreak will spread to neighbouring countries also remains high. Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda have been categorized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as Priority 1 risk countries for Ebola preparedness due to their proximity to outbreak-affected areas and the high degree of population movement across borders. The already weak public health infrastructure and insecure operating environments in some of these countries are further increasing the complexity and costs of implementing minimum prevention and preparedness actions.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNICEF is implementing interventions focusing on:
- Risk communication and community engagement to reinforce and increase the awareness, acceptance, involvement, investment and, ultimately, community ownership in all aspects of the Ebola response;
- Infection prevention and control with, as the epidemic evolves, a focus on training more health workers and better assessing and equipping health facilities, as well as on decontamination interventions in households, health facilities and other spaces with confirmed Ebola cases;
- Psychosocial support and protection to provide support for survivors and alternative care for separated and orphaned children; and
- Nutrition services to provide appropriate medical and nutritional care to Ebola patients.
2019 programme targets 
Risk communication and community engagement
- 40 million people reached with Ebola messages through community engagement and interpersonal communication
- 12,390 community health workers trained on risk communication and community engagement for Ebola preparedness8
Infection prevention and control
- 218,622 people9 reached with hygiene and prevention kits10
- 24,551 health facilities provided with interpersonal communication/water, sanitation and hygiene supplies in at-risk areas11
- 149,440 affected people who received psychosocial support
- 1.4 million students reached with Ebola prevention information in schools
The public health response to the Ebola epidemic cannot be effective without a wider, complementary response that addresses the significant social and humanitarian problems of the communities affected by the crisis. As such, Pillar 35 (community ownership and basic services) is critical to creating an environment of trust with affected communities by addressing pressing needs and providing essential services that did not exist or were interrupted by the Ebola response, particularly in areas where there is lack of access or unwelcoming communities.
Since the start of the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNICEF has scaled up preparedness efforts in all four high-risk neighbouring countries, focusing on the following four priority areas:6
- Leadership and coordination in prevention and preparedness;
- Risk communication, social mobilization and community engagement to inform, protect and engage local populations;
- Infection prevention and control and access to safe water and sanitation in communities, health facilities and schools, as well as access to health services and Ebola-related supplies, and training of health workers; and
- Psychosocial support and child protection interventions.
Significant funding is still required. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNICEF funding requirements stand at US$175.7 million; and in the four countries neighbouring the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda), UNICEF funding requirements to implement preparedness actions stand at US$15.8 million.
1 As of 20 September 2019.
2 Of these, 3,046 are confirmed cases.
3 World Health Organization, 20 September 2019.
5 Interventions under Pillar 3 of the fourth Strategic Response Plan for the control of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
6 Interventions under Pillar 5 of the fourth Strategic Response Plan for the control of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
7 Programme targets and the total number of people and children to be reached are aggregates across Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.
8 This is aggregated for Rwanda and South Sudan.
9 This includes households with confirmed cases, neighbours and contacts.
10 This is aggregated for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.
11 This is aggregated for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.