The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced on Thursday that the country has beaten its 10th Ebola outbreak.
“This long, complex, and difficult outbreak has been overcome due to the leadership and commitment of the government of the DRC, supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO), a multitude of partners, donors, and above all, the efforts of the communities affected by the virus,” said the WHO in a statement.
It added that it will continue working alongside the DRC’s Ministry of Health and communities to support survivors, and provide surveillance and response systems to contain any potential outbreaks in the coming months.
"The outbreak took so much from all of us, especially from the people of DRC, but we came out of it with valuable lessons and valuable tools," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“The world is now better-equipped to respond to Ebola,” he added. “A vaccine has been licensed, and effective treatments identified.”
The outbreak was declared in Northern Kivu in August 2018. It was the second largest Ebola outbreak in the world, and was complicated by factors such as ongoing conflict in the region and attacks on medical facilities.
In March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that the last Ebola patient had been released from a treatment centre — a development it hoped would mark the end of Ebola as long as no new cases were reported for 42 days.
Just when the country was just days away from declaring victory over Ebola, six new cases were reported in May. In total, throughout the whole outbreak, there were 3,470 cases of Ebola reported, 2,287 deaths, and 1,171 survivors.
The WHO said it took thousands of health care workers, along with 250,000 registered suspected cases, 220,000 testing samples, and the vaccination of over 303,000 people to beat the outbreak.
“During the almost two years we fought the Ebola virus, WHO and partners helped strengthen the capacity of local health authorities to manage outbreaks,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
She added: “The DRC is now better, smarter, and faster at responding to Ebola and this is an enduring legacy which is supporting the response to COVID-19 and other outbreaks.”
Ghebreyesus added: “We should celebrate this moment, but we must resist complacency. Viruses do not take breaks. Ultimately, the best defence against any outbreak is investing in a stronger health system as the foundation for universal health coverage.”
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