UNICEF to scale up Ebola response following new cases in major commercial center of Butembo in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Milestones :: Perspectives

UNICEF to scale up Ebola response following new cases in major commercial center of Butembo in the Democratic Republic of Congo

KINSHASA/DAKAR/NEW YORK/GENEVA, 14 September 2018 – UNICEF is opening a new Ebola-response front in the Democratic Republic of Congo to provide support to thousands of people, including children, at risk in the city of Butembo, following the Government’s recent confirmation of two new Ebola cases.

“Butembo is an important commercial city and has nearly one million inhabitants. So there is a real risk the virus could spread quickly in such a large population centre,” said Dr Gianfranco Rotigliano, UNICEF Representative in the DRC during his visit to Butembo. “The number of confirmed Ebola cases in Butembo remains limited, but we have to ensure that everything is being done now to ensure that the outbreak is controlled at this early stage.”

UNICEF is expanding its Ebola response and deploying to Butembo a team of 11 specialists in community communication, education, psycho-social assistance, and water, sanitation and hygiene to help contain the disease and avoid any further spread of the epidemic. Prioritizing neighbourhoods in Butembo with confirmed Ebola cases and people who have been in contact with infected people, UNICEF together with its partners has already:
:: Trained 35 psycho-social workers to assist families and children affected by the disease;
:: Broadcast sensitization programmes on nine community radios and sensitized 36 journalists on prevention measures;
:: Informed 255 local community leaders in targeted neighbourhoods in Butembo about the Ebola virus, prevention measures and the alert number to contact for early and specialised health care for people with Ebola-like symptoms;
:: Sensitized about 7,000 people through religious leaders.

While expanding its response to the city of Butembo, UNICEF continues to work with its partners in Mangina and Beni. Since the beginning of the outbreak, UNICEF has collaborated with community, youth and religious leaders to reach more than 3.3 million people with Ebola prevention and advocacy messages. UNICEF is working with local communities and Ebola survivors to ensure that the strategies put in place are effective and sustainable, and to defuse local resistance against the Ebola response, especially in the Ndindi neighbourhood of Beni.

UNICEF multidisciplinary teams include anthropologists, who ensure that the response is sensitive to cultural believes and practices, particularly around caring for sick and diseased individuals, and addressing populations’ concerns about secure and dignified burials. In Ndindi, local committees are working hand-in-hand with UNICEF to identify and implement sensitization activities. Local committees have contributed to the setting up of sensitization trucks with megaphones driving through the neighbourhood. UNICEF has provided 120 local leaders with mobile phones to strengthen early detection and referral to relevant health services of people suspected to be infected.