D.R Congo Commences Ebola Vaccination, Says WHO

The Democratic Republic of Congo has commenced Ebola vaccination began today in its North Kivu Province where a case was confirmed on 8 October, the World Health Organisation has revealed.

A statement from the United Nation’s agency clarified that people at high risk, including contacts of the confirmed case and first responders will receive the doses as the health authorities move to curb the spread of the virus.

It was recalled that the confirmed case was a two-year old boy who died on 6 October in a local health facility had lived in the same community where three members of the same family died in September after experiencing Ebola-like symptoms.

Meanwhile about 1000 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine and other medical supplies have been reportedly delivered from the capital Kinshasa to Goma city in North Kivu and around 200 doses were sent to Beni city near the Butsili health area where the confirmed case was detected.

The statement made clear that vaccinators are using the “ring vaccination” approach, where contacts and contacts of contacts are vaccinated.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is said to have over 12 000 vaccine doses in Kinshasa that can be deployed if necessary.

Regional Director for Africa – WHO Dr Matshidiso Moeti, was quoted as saying that vaccines can create a firewall of protection around cases, stopping the chain of transmission, averting a potentially large outbreak and saving many lives.

“The Democratic Republic of the Congo is spearheading the efforts to halt this latest Ebola resurgence, banking on expertise built in responding to previous outbreaks.”

The statement also clarified on efforts employed by the WHO to support emergency response activities of the national authorities of the D.R. Congo,“In addition to organizing vaccination activities, emergency response teams are working around the clock to trace contacts, decontaminate infected spaces and step up surveillance and testing. Already, more than 170 contacts have been identified and teams are monitoring their health.

“To support the national authorities in the response efforts, WHO has released US$ 200 000 through its Contingency Fund for Emergencies. WHO is also in the process of shipping five tons worth of response supplies, including therapeutics, personal protective equipment and laboratory materials”, the statement read in part.”

Efforts were also put in place to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation, inappropriate and abusive behaviour.

“Among the first members of the 15-person WHO surge team deployed to Beni is an expert in the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. The expert will brief WHO employees and partners on how to prevent any inappropriate and abusive behaviour. The expert will also work with local non-governmental organizations to sensitize communities on sexual abuse and how to report it.”

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s National Institute of Biomedical Research’s main laboratory in Kinshasa is currently testing samples of the confirmed case to identify the strain and results are expected this week.

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