UNICEF welcomes end of 23 month-long Ebola outbreak in eastern DRC and calls for additional support as country tackles new outbreak in north-west

25 June 2020
Democratic republic of the Congo. A woman holds a baby.
FILE PHOTO: Madelaine, a carer at a UNICEF-supported nursery in Beni, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, holds five-month-old Guerrishon.

KINSHASA, 25 June 2020 – UNICEF welcomed the announcement by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today of the end of the 23-month long Ebola outbreak in the east of the country but warned that increased efforts must continue in response to a new outbreak in the north-western province of Equateur.

The Ebola outbreak in eastern DRC began in August 2018 and was the world’s second-deadliest - after the 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa - and the first in an active conflict zone, killing 2,287 people and infecting 3,470.  Children made up around 28 per cent of all cases, compared to about 20 per cent in previous epidemics.

During the eastern DRC Ebola outbreak, UNICEF supported 3,812 health centres with essential water, hygiene and sanitation services, provided more than 16,000 children with psychosocial support, and helped reach more than 37 million people across the country with life-saving information about the disease.

“Our experience tackling the outbreak in eastern DRC has shown us that strategic partnerships with community, religious leaders, journalists, radio stations, and civil society organizations, as well as generous funding, are instrumental to containing disease outbreak,” said UNICEF DRC Representative Edouard Beigbeder. “These valuable lessons are helping us in our current effort to tackle the new Ebola outbreak in Equateur Province, while also responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ebola resurfaced in Equateur on 1 June and has so far killed 13 people and infected 24. Genetic sequencing has shown that the outbreak is not linked to the one in the east or to the 2018 Equateur outbreak. Based on the experience of responding to previous outbreaks, UNICEF has quickly deployed water, hygiene and sanitation supplies, and has been working alongside local government and civil society structures to share critical information on Ebola symptoms, prevention and treatment, and address myths and misinformation. UNICEF is also providing psychosocial support to Ebola patients – including children – and their families.

“We would have not been able to reach the end of the outbreak in Eastern DRC without massive mobilization of financial and human resources,” said Beigbeder. “As DRC records over 6,000 cases of COVID-19 infection, it is more important than ever that international donors support the country’s already overburdened health systems to fight against the disease and tackle the impacts on children and their families.”


Notes for editors:

UNICEF’s donors for the Ebola response in eastern DRC included: the World Bank Group, the European Commission ECHO, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), USAID, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the United Nations Emergency Ebola Response Operations (UNEERO)) the Government of Japan, the Government of United Kingdom, The Government of Canada, The Government of Germany, The Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation (BMGF), The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation (PGAFF) and the UNICEF National Committees of Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

UNICEF’s partners in the Ebola response in eastern DRC included: International NGOs include ACF, ADRA, Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) - Associazone Volontari per il Servizio Internazionale (AVSI), Medair, Mercy Corps, Norwegian Church Aid, Oxfam Great Britain, Search for Common Ground, Solidarités International, Conseil Danois pour les Refugies. Nations NGOs include: Action de Solidarité pour la Promotion de la Santé Familiale et Développement, Agence d’Achat des Performances, Bureau d’Etude Hydraulique et des Constructions, Bureau Diocésain des Oeuvres Médicales Butembo Beni, Caritas Congo, (CEPROSSAN), Consortium de l’Agriculture Urbaine de Butembo, Croix Rouge de la RDC, Croix Rouge de la RDC Nord Kivu, FECONDE, Mutuelle De Sante Canaan, Programme de Promotion des Soins de Santé Primaire, Réseau Médias pour le Développement (REMED), Solidarité des Associations Féminines pour les Droits de la Femme et de l’Enfant. Gouvernemental institutions include : Division Provinciale Genre, Famille et Enfant de l'Ituri, Commission Nationale de Prevention Routière, Division Provinciale Communication et Médias, Division de l’Information et Presse, Division des Affaires Sociales de l’Ituri, Division Provincial de la Santé Tshopo, Division Provinciale de la Santé Sud Kivu, Division Provinciale de l’Intérieur du Nord Kivu, Division Provinciale des Affaires Sociales, Division Provinciale de l’Enseignement Primaire, Secondaire et Professionnel Nord Kivu, Division Provinciale de la Santé Nord Kivu/Inspection Médicale de la Santé du Nord Kivu, Division Provinciale de la Santé Ituri, Enseignement Primaire, Secondaire et Professionnel Bunia, Enseignement Primaire, Secondaire et Professionnel Nord Kivu II.

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Democratic Republic of the Congo. Students put up a poster detailing Ebola sensitization at a school in Butembo.
Students put up posters detailing Ebola sensitization at a school in Butembo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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