MSF condemns 'militarised' response to Ebola outbreak


The MSF global president stressed that people were facing the biggest Ebola outbreak in the history of the country as "907 people have fallen sick from Ebola, 569 of them have died".

The current strategy to fight the Ebola outbreak in the Congo has failed is Convinced that the aid organisation Doctors without borders (MSF).

"The use of police and armed forces to compel people to comply with health measures against Ebola is leading to further alienation of the community and is counterproductive to controlling the epidemic", it added. "The communities are not the enemy".

Because local health workers can't be pulled when security deteriorates, increased security is needed to keep the response going, the ministry said.

Involvement of security and police forces deepens suspicions Ebola is used as a political tool, she said.

The Interior Ministry has been asked to guarantee security, as it is unacceptable for health officials to be threatened and attacked, or for the threat of violence to stop families from burying their loved ones in a dignified and safe manner, she said.

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MSF, which is active across DRC, is considering whether to resume activities in the two areas, but is intent on avoiding the use of security personnel on site or in rounding up patients, Liu said.

"They see relatives sprayed with chlorine and wrapped in plastic bags, buried without ceremony".

The failure to overcome the ongoing epidemic has seen it evolve into the second largest ever breakout of its kind, trailing an epidemic between 2013-2016 which killed about 11,300 people in West Africa as it surged through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Local officials, unlike worldwide staffers, did not have the privilege of being evacuated for security reasons, she said.

A World Health Organization worker administers a vaccination during the launch of a campaign aimed at beating an outbreak of Ebola in the port city of Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo, on 21 May 2018. "Then they see their possessions burned", she said. Furthermore, 43 percent of new patients over the past three weeks had no known connections to previous Ebola cases, making it hard to track the spread of the disease.

Liu said Ebola is a brutal disease that breeds fear and isolation to patients, families, and health providers. A myriad of armed groups operate in eastern Congo, complicating efforts for the teams that go out into the communities to identify suspected cases of the disease.

The lack of control over the spread of Ebola is of serious concern at a time when huge resources are being poured into reining in the virus, and more than 80,000 people have received vaccines.