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Health

World Health Organization Pleads for End of Conflict in Congo as Ebola Spreads

As the current Ebola outbreak worsens in the northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) is asking for a break in armed conflict.

The area is stricken with conflict between more than 100 armed groups, and has created inaccessible “red zone” areas, according to the Guardian.

The WHO’s director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said these conditions make it difficult to tackle the Ebola outbreak.

The Ministry of Health of the DRC declared the outbreak in North Kivu Province on Aug. 1. Since then, there have been 57 probable cases and 41 deaths linked to the deadly virus.

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After his visit, Dr. Tedros said he was “actually more worried after the visit than before the visit.”

The current outbreak figures have already exceeded those of an outbreak earlier this year in Équateur province, which saw 53 cases and 29 deaths.

“We call on the warring parties for a cessation of hostilities because the virus is dangerous to all. It doesn’t choose between this group and that group,” Dr. Tedros said at a press conference, following his visit to the DRC.

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It has been confirmed that the outbreak has spread into the northern province of Ituri, after a man confirmed to have had Ebola died after returning there from Mangina’s main health center in North Kivu, according to the Guardian.

Conflict often plays a role in limiting health care workers’ ability to reach people in need of vaccines and treatment. But Dr. Tedros also warned that the area’s high population density and movement between borders add additional concerns of the virus spreading.

Initial symptoms of the Ebola virus include sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. Then comes vomiting, diarrhea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and potentially internal and external bleeding, according to the WHO.

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With the devastating 2014-2016 outbreak still fresh in many minds, the health industry kicked efforts into high gear when officials declared the previous outbreak and deployed the new Ebola vaccine, which was proven safe and effective in 2016, but is not yet licensed, according to Reuters.

In the Mangina health center, seven health workers have contracted Ebola and about 75 more have been sent home in case they have it too. New workers who received the vaccine have replaced them.

The vaccine has been flown in, as well as five other experimental drugs. Dr. Tedros reminded the international community that funds to tackle this outbreak are essential.