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African Union criticised for ignoring Ebola crisis in DRC

Medical personnel all geared up for the extraction of an Ebola patient. CSOs have slammed the African Union for sidelining the fight against Ebola. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – Civil society organizations under their coalition for public health have condemned the union for being silent on the Ebola crisis that has ravaged the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

“As civil society organizations, we call on National and global leaders to give due attention to the Ebola crisis in DRC,” said Iutung.

This was in a joint statement presented by the Bureau Chief, Africa Aids Healthcare Foundation, Dr Penninah Iutung at a press briefing held today at their offices Uganda Cares in Kamwokya.

Iutung noted that the African Union Peace and Security Council must efficiently manage and resolve the conflict in Eastern DR Congo. It should also ensure the safety and security of health care workers who are working tirelessly to combat the epidemic and see to it that peace is restored in the country.

Dr Ekwaro Obuku from Uganda Medical Association said Uganda is known globally for responding fast to outbreaks and government should continue with the same record by ensuring screening is conducted in all spots like Namugongo among others.

He pledged full support from the medical fraternity if funds are available.

The executive director of Health promotion and social development (HEPS), Denis Kibira urged the World Health Organization to fast-track the approval of the Ebola to enable a wider distribution to all who need it. “We need the vaccines to counter the epidemic because it’s side effects are minimal compared to the rate at which Ebola claims lives,” said Kibira.

The Program Associate, Center for Health, Human Rights and Development(CEHURD), Derrick Aaron Nsibirwa explained that there’s need by the government of DR Congo and other partners to increase awareness about the reality of the current Ebola outbreak epidemic and it’s containment measures.

There must for a connection with the community as well as building mutual trust to enable the acceptance of infection prevention and control practices such as safe burials and decontamination activities. The Ebola crisis is the second deadliest in history following the 2014-2016 crisis in West Africa.

This 10-month old crisis has claimed over 1200 lives with 200 of them occurring in May alone. However, despite it’s intensity and high potential to spread wider, there is very little regional and global attention. According to the statement, historically, DRC had been vulnerable to Ebola outbreaks, recording over 10 of them in 40 years.

The current wave is the worst ever documented in the country and has potential to be catastrophic since the ongoing health response is being hampered by insecurity situation thus making the whole region and global community vulnerable to the spread.

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