Clinics for Ebola survivors

UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Health to follow up Ebola survivors over the long term in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Jean-Claude Wenga (translated from French by Holly-Anne Whyte)
Une survivante d'Ebola assise lors qu'une consultation
02 February 2021

In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 1,171 people have survived the second deadliest Ebola epidemic in history. "Many lost their lives, but we made it through," says Madeleine Kavuo, looking back on the 23 months during which 2,287 people lost their lives.

Madelaine contracted the Ebola virus in October 2018 after caring for her sick niece. Acting quickly may have saved her life. "When I felt something was wrong, I immediately sought advice," explains Madeleine, who quickly received the care she needed at the Ebola treatment centre in Beni. Once she had been declared cured, Madeleine decided to use her immunity to care for children orphaned or separated from their parents due to the disease.

Une survivante d'Ebola tenant son certificat de guérison

Despite their immunity, Ebola survivors may retain the virus in certain bodily fluids and experience medical and psychosocial problems. To help them overcome these problems and reduce the risk of further transmission of the virus, a multidisciplinary monitoring programme has been set up by the Ministry of Health with the support of UNICEF and WHO.

Over 18 months, survivors of the epidemic are monitored monthly at specialized clinics to review their clinical, biological and psychological health and their well-being. UNICEF's support focuses on psychosocial monitoring, monitoring the growth of children under 24 months, medical check-ups for children under 15 years, and preventing and reducing the stigmatization of survivors. "The fact that we are supported and monitored is reassuring," says Madeleine, who goes for her check-up each month.

As well as providing care for those who have been cured, the clinics also offer a place to meet and talk. Once a week, Ebola survivors meet to talk, share their thoughts and carry out activities together. "We’ve gone through a great ordeal together and we must make sure we're there for future generations," concludes Madeleine.

UNICEF would like to thank the World Bank Group, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund and the Governments of Canada and Germany for supporting post-Ebola activities in the east of the country.