More than four decades since it was discovered, Ebola is no less terrifying for adults and children today than it was when the “haemorrhagic fever” was first identified in a village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in 1976.
The country is currently grappling with the second largest Ebola epidemic on record anywhere in the world, with more than 2,000 lives lost and around 3,000 confirmed infections since the epidemic was declared on 1 August 2018. Almost 600 children in the northeast of DRC have died, and thousands more have had their lives devastated, having witnessed death and suffering, lost loved ones, or been forced to spend weeks in isolation because they had contact with someone infected with the virus.
But while countries in the region have been dealing with outbreaks on various scales for decades, what has made this outbreak far more complex is that it is taking place in an active conflict zone – where violence, fear and misinformation have exacerbated the crisis for those living in the DRC's North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri provinces in the east of the country. In response, UNICEF is working with partners to beat this devastating disease.
Ebola remains a deadly threat. But with vigilance, courage, hope and support, it can be defeated.