Ebola centre ATTACKED by gang as rebels DON’T TRUST doctors – one dead after shooting

Ebola centre ATTACKED by gang as rebels DON’T TRUST doctors – one dead after shooting

Police opened fire to disperse the crowd in the Biena health zone, west of Butembo, killing one person and injuring another yesterday, DR Congo’s h

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Police opened fire to disperse the crowd in the Biena health zone, west of Butembo, killing one person and injuring another yesterday, DR Congo’s health ministry said. It was the fourth attack in a month, and experts say they could seriously hamper efforts to control the Ebola outbreak. World Health Organization chief Tedros Ghebreyesus Adhanom told a press conference: “These attacks could reverse the gains we have made.

“We are working to find a balance between protecting patients and staff from attacks by armed groups and building community trust and ownership. It’s not a simple ‘either/or’ situation. We must do both to end the outbreak.” 

Last week the medical charity MSF, which has had two of its health centres attacked, said the fight against Ebola was being lost because local communities do not trust health workers and the response has become too militarised. 

But Mr Tedros, who returned earlier this week from the outbreak zone, said locals were struggling to fathom why the West was paying so much attention to Ebola but turning a blind eye to other chronic health problems, including cholera and malaria. 

He said: “I’d actually like to call upon the international community to link the outbreak control now with developing the health system. 

“The security situation means people are worried about issues beyond health. 

“It’s understandable that Ebola is an added burden on an already overburdened population. This creates a challenging climate for the response. And during many of my visits that’s what I witnessed. The despair in the community. Peace or no peace.” 

The disease is spread through contact with bodily fluids and causes haemorrhagic fever with severe vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding.

In many flare-ups, more than half of cases are fatal. 

In the worst outbreak, which began in 2013, more than 11,000 people were killed in three years, mostly in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Dr Tedros said the outbreak is being contained and could be over by September, but the conflict-hit country must now focus on tackling broader health problems.

The deadly outbreak, the second biggest ever recorded, is believed to have killed 587 people in a region rife with poverty and violence.

But international health teams have so far managed to prevent the disease from spilling over into neighbouring countries. 

Dr Tedros said: “We have averted a much larger outbreak.

“Our target now is to finish it within the next six months.”

The virus is now concentrated to just two areas – Butembo and Katwa – and the number of new confirmed cases has halved to 25 per week since January.

But fear and mistrust towards health workers and attacks by armed rebel groups continue to hinder the implementation of response activities.  

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