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DRC – Ebola
35: Situation report on the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu
2 April 2019
This past week saw a notable increase in the number of Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases, with 72 newly confirmed cases and one new probable case reported in the last seven days; the largest proportion of which were from Katwa and Vuhovi health zones…
…Despite these setbacks, it should be noted that the recent shift in strategy of increasing community outreach from earlier weeks, is gradually yielding tangible results on the ground. In Katwa, the Ebola Treatment Centre was reopened after frank and open dialogue with the community. Previously reluctant communities are now permitting access to healthcare providers once again, with residents actively participating in the renewed response efforts at times. Incidents in the community are now also rigorously followed up to minimize any potential misunderstanding, which may inadvertently contribute to community reluctance, refusal, or resistance to response efforts. In the outbreak hotspots of Katwa, Butembo and Vuhovi, persistent efforts aimed at encouraging community dialogues saw the establishment of Ebola community committees across 16 health areas. Although these community engagement interventions take time to win over the trust and cooperation of the local population, they are an integral tool in aiding the acceptance of WHO response efforts to curtail the spread of EVD in these challenging social/geographic settings. Successes observed this past week are positive indicators that these measures should be maintained whilst continually adapting to the evolving context.
Implementation of ring vaccination protocol
There are 19 vaccination teams made up of 226 Congolese vaccinators with basic GCP training, 50 Congolese formally trained in GCP and 43 GCP trained and experienced Guinean/African researchers.
As of 31 March, 93 686 contacts and contacts of contacts have been vaccinated.
The 2016 SAGE guidelines recommend that all HCWS and FLWS at risk of Ebola in the affected areas and in the areas where the outbreak is likely to spread are offered rVSV ZEBOV GP vaccine.
Since the start of the outbreak, healthcare workers and front-line workers at risk of Ebola are also being offered preventive vaccination. Almost 27 000 have been vaccinated in the health areas affected by the outbreak. In addition, over 15 000 HCWs and FLWs have been vaccinated in neighbouring areas where the risk of spread is significant (i.e Goma, South Sudan, Uganda, and soon Rwanda and Burundi)…
Risk communication, social mobilization and community engagement
Community dialogues taking place in hotspots of Butembo, Katwa and Vuhovi health zones have led to the establishment of Ebola community committees in four health areas in Katwa, six health areas in Butembo, and six health areas in Vuhovi.
House to house visits and discussions in public forums, including in market places, schools and churches to raise awareness on the evolving Ebola outbreak and clarify related community concerns are ongoing in Beni, Bunia, Butembo, Katwa, Mabalako, Oicha, Lubero, and Goma.
A strategic meeting with key operational partners, including NGOs was held in Goma on 25-26 March with a clear objective for stronger collaboration and alignment of work at the health area level to strengthening risk communication and community engagement, informed by social science evidence. These include addressing community needs beyond the immediate Ebola response interventions.
Community related incidents are systematically being followed up to ensure that any misunderstanding leading to reluctance, refusal or resistance of the Ebola response is followed up and resolved as quickly as possible…