LOS ANGELES (August 30, 2019) With another Ebola case emerging again in Uganda, it is clear the threat of the deadly virus spreading to neighboring countries and beyond is only a matter of time. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urges UN Secretary-General António Guterres—who arrives at the outbreak’s epicenter in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) tomorrow—to take the necessary steps to ensure an expedient end to the devastating year-long crisis.
The continual spread of Ebola within the DRC, into populous cities (Goma) and into neighborning countries is a worst-case scenario when dealing with infectious disease outbreaks. To alleviate the lack of vaccine availability, the World Health Organization should approve the highly-effective (over 97%) Merck vaccine as quickly as possible and ensure sufficient quantities are on hand for everyone who needs it.
Widespread insecurity is also of great concern. Dozens of frontline health workers have been injured or killed due to attacks on outbreak response personnel, assets and facilities. UN security forces in-country must be fully empowered to strengthen and enforce the Security Council’s existing UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONCUSO) mandate to ensure the safety of those risking their lives to deliver vaccines and treatment to DRC citizens and Ebola patients, respectively.
The African Union must also increase its contribution by bolstering its role in the response. We urge more transparency by informing the continent of actions being taken and of the real situation on the ground. There is no time or place for behind-the-scenes maneuvers when so many lives are at stake—both inside the DRC and within neighboring countries and regions.
“We hope that Mr. Guterres seeing the devastation Ebola has caused in person will finally trigger a greater sense of urgency from all the responsible organizations to boost efforts in all aspects of the response,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before it spreads far beyond the DRC and neighboring countries. Ebola is a global threat—we can’t wait until its on other countries’ doorsteps before increased actions are taken.”