The World Health Organization announced that the outbreak of confirmed Ebola cases in Congo has become an international health emergency. There have been more than 1,600 confirmed victims. After three previous meetings, WHO has finally declared the Ebola outbreak in Africa as an international emergency, reports Travel Pulse.
How will the declaration help the Ebola outbreak in Africa?
The declaration will help bring more international attention and assistance to the region. The first reported case was earlier this week in Goma. Goma is a city of around two million people with an international airport.
The risk of Ebola spreading in the region is a concern. However, chief executive Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus revealed the threat outside the impacted areas remains low. Ghebreyesus also said that the declaration, “should not be used to stigmatize or penalize the very people who are most in need of our help.” The United States has offered assistance. The Agency for International Development said it would “scale up life-saving support” to help end the outbreak.
Apart from the case in Goma, and three fatal cases in Uganda last month, the outbreak has been restricted to other largely rural regions of North Kivu and Ituri. The WHO said that there were currently no cases outside of DRC.
Other international health emergencies in history
This is the fifth time in history that WHO has declared an international health emergency. Others include the 2014-16 Ebola outbreaks in West Africa, the Zika outbreak in the Americas, the swine flu pandemic and polio.
An African Union (AU) health official has warned against curbing travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “We want to be sure that the international community and member states in Africa do not impose any restrictions on travels to anyone going into or coming outside of the DRC,” said John Nkengasong, director of the AU’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).