Geneva — The World Health Organization on Friday reported the ongoing Ebola epidemic in Congo — that spilled into Uganda this week — is still an”extraordinary event” of deep concern but doesn’t yet warrant being declared an international emergency. The U. N. healthcare agency borrows its specialist committee to the third time to rate the epidemic, which many experts said met the criteria to be given an international emergency sometime ago.
This epidemic, the second-deadliest in history, has killed more than 1,400 people as it was declared in August. At a media briefing following the interview, Dr. Preben Aavitsland, the acting chair of the committee, announced that the epidemic is”a health emergency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo” but that the situation does not yet satisfy the criteria to be declared a worldwide one.
For such a statement, an epidemic must constitute a risk to other nations and require a coordinated response. The statement typically triggers attention and more funding.
Aavitsland said the committee had been”deeply disappointed” the WHO and the affected nations have perhaps not received the financing required to block the out break and delivered a blunt message :”Step up”
On Thursday, WHO’s emergencies chief confessed the agency has been unable to track the origins of nearly half of new Ebola cases in Congo, implying that it doesn’t understand where the virus is currently spreading.
WHO’s expert committee has met twice before to think about the situation in Congo. Back in April, the agency said the outbreak was “deep concern” but officials were”fairly optimistic” it could be comprised within a”potential time.”
Alexandra Phelan, a global wellness expert at Georgetown University, said the lawful criteria for announcing Ebola a international emergency have been met, before the virus touched Uganda.
“I believe the declaration ought to be made to night,” she explained. “considering the fact that we are still seeing daily variety of cases in the triple digits and we don’t need sufficient surveillance, that implies the epidemic is a recurring regional risk.”
Phelan said she was concerned WHO could be tricked by political considerations.
As the much deadlier 2014 16 Ebola outbreak clubbed in West Africa, WHO was heavily criticized for not announcing a worldwide emergency until nearly 1,000 people had expired and the herpes virus had spread to at least three nations. Internal WHO documents later revealed the agency feared the statement would have social and economic implications for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
“It is legitimate for countries to raise these concerns, but the cornerstone where WHO and its emergency committee should be looking at is the risk to people health insurance and the possibility of international spread,” Phelan said.
The epidemic, occurring close to the boundaries of Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan, was like no other. Mistrust was saturated in a spot that had never faced Ebola before and attacks by rebel groups have jeopardized aid efforts.
CBS News correspondent Debora Patta visited the epicenter of the epidemic in Congo in late May, also said the nation’s quarter-century-old civil war, and the violence and mistrust it has revealed, were clearly disrupting efforts to support the illness. Centers have regularly been assaulted by the plethora militia groups that operate in the spot, and lots of locals were either too scared or too questionable to find out medical assistance there.
Outreach programs were started to educate people around Ebola, but Patta said mistrust runs deep in the area, and lots of individuals didn’t even consider Ebola as big a problem as security.
Dr. Bill Clemmer, with the non-profit IMA World Health, has functioned in the DRC for more than two decades also partnered with USAID to help with previous Ebola outbreaks.
“I’ve never been in a context where people throw stone in our vaccination team, where they obstruct roads, at which they loot and pillage our healthcare facilities,” he explained.