Six months on, Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo now second largest in history

With children accounting for 30% of the confirmed and probable Ebola cases, UNICEF scales up its response to halt spread of the disease

30 January 2019
UNICEF’s WASH Officer, demonstrates to children how to correctly wash their hands in order to prevent the spread of Ebola
UNICEF/UN0229504/Naftalin

KINSHASA/NEW YORK, 30 January 2019 – Since the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was declared six months ago, 1st of August 2018, more than 740 people – 30 per cent of whom are children – have been infected with the disease, including over 460 who have died, and 258 that have survived Ebola. Alongside the Government and partners, UNICEF is scaling up its response to assist victims, control the spread of the disease and ultimately end the deadly outbreak.  

This is the 10th Ebola outbreak in the DRC and the country’s worst. It is also the world’s second largest Ebola outbreak in history after the one in West Africa in 2014-2016. The response to this latest outbreak continues to be hampered by insecurity, frequent movement of people in the affected areas, and resistance from some communities.

"While we have been able to largely control the disease in Mangina, Beni and Komanda, the virus continues to spread in the Butembo area, largely because of insecurity and population movement," said Dr. Gianfranco Rotigliano, UNICEF Representative in the DRC.

"We are scaling up our response and deploying additional staff in the health zones of Butembo and Katwa, where 65 per cent of the new Ebola-cases in the last three weeks have occurred." 

Since the beginning of the epidemic, UNICEF and its partners have deployed more than 650 staff to work with Government, civil society, churches, and non-governmental organizations – to assist infected people and affected families and to raise awareness about the best hygiene and behavioral practices to prevent Ebola from spreading.

UNICEF’s Ebola response focuses on community engagement, providing water and sanitation, making schools safe from Ebola and supporting children and families infected and affected by Ebola. UNICEF aims to control and prevent the spread of the outbreak, and ultimately stop the outbreak; to reduce Ebola-related deaths among those infected; and to provide protection, alleviate suffering and give assistance to affected children and families.

Infected people and affected families and their children, including children orphaned by Ebola and unaccompanied children, continue to receive psychosocial support to help them cope with the consequences of the Ebola disease. UNICEF is also providing a protective environment for children in schools and nutrition assistance, including to children and adults in the Ebola Treatment Centers.

"Our teams in Mangina, Beni, Oicha, Komanda, Butembo and Lubero are working tirelessly with this multi-pronged approach to end the Ebola outbreak as quickly as possible, and to help affected families and children,” stressed Dr. Rotigliano.

To date, UNICEF and its partners have:

  • Sensitized more than 10 million people in affected areas with prevention messages in collaboration with community leaders and through mass media;
  • Provided drinking water to more than 1.3 million people in public places, health facilities and schools;
  • Trained 8,146 teachers on Ebola prevention measures;
  • Reached 157,133 children in 888 schools with prevention messages;
  • Provided appropriated assistance to 830 families directly affected by Ebola;
  • Identified 686 Ebola orphans and provided them with appropriated care.

Media Contacts

Diane Yameogo

UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office

Tel: +221 77 332 4326

Yves Willemot

Chief of Communication

UNICEF DRC

Tel: +243 81 88 46 746

Christopher Tidey

Communication Specialist

UNICEF New York

Tel: +1 917 340 3017

Patsy Nakell

Chief of Communication

UNICEF Africa Services Unit

Tel: +27 79 495 5938

Marixie Mercado

Chief Media Relations

UNICEF Geneva

Tel: +41

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

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