PHEIC's are declared during an outbreak when the risk of the disease spreading to other countries is high. With the spread of the disease to Goma, chances of the deadly disease spreading to Rwanda and Uganda are high according to WHO.
Health Workers in DRC Being sprayed down
The World Health Organization-WHO has declared the outbreak of
Ebola in DRC as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern-PHEIC after
an Ebola case was reported in Goma, DRC.
PHEIC's are declared during an outbreak when the risk of the disease spreading
to other countries is high. With the spread of the disease to Goma, chances of
the deadly disease spreading to Rwanda and Uganda are high according to WHO.
This follows recommendations made on Wednesday in a meeting by the Emergency
Committee of the WHO. The committee advised the Director-General of the WHO Dr
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The confirmed case of Ebola in Goma was of a pastor who had travelled from Butembo-one
of the areas that has been struggling with the outbreak of the disease since
last year. More than 2,500 cases have been reported with over 1600 deaths
reported since the outbreak was declared last year.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says efforts to fight the outbreak have to
be doubled to put an end to the outbreak. He calls upon all countries and
international partners to support the fight to end the disease.
“It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to
work together to end this outbreak and build a better health system. I
emphasize that WHO does not recommend any restrictions on travel, which can
actually hamper the fight. We call upon all countries, companies and
individuals to support DRC by respecting these recommendations.”
This was the fourth meeting held since the outbreak was declared last
year. The committee cited the confirmation of an Ebola case in Goma as the main
reason why they decided to label the outbreak a PHEIC. Over two million people
live in Goma which borders Rwanda and is a major business hub in the DRC.
The emergency committee has only termed outbreaks as PHEIC four times. These
included; the swine flu pandemic of 2009, the poliovirus spread in 2014 and the
2014 to 2016 Ebola epidemic of West Africa and the Zika virus of 2016 in
Professor Robert Steffen, the chair of the Emergency Committee says people should
not use the PHEIC as an excuse to close border and impose travel
restrictions on persons that have travelled to the DRC.
“It is crucial that states do not use the PHEIC as an excuse to
impose trade or travel restrictions, which would have negative impact on the
response and on the lives and livelihoods of people in the region.”
According to Dr.Micheal Ryan, the Executive Director WHO Emergencies Programme
total sum of 233 million dollars has been budget for the public health
operation so far but is open to changes.
The committee recommended that strengthening of community awareness continued
cross border screening and strengthening of surveillance to reduce community
Neighbouring countries like Uganda are being advised to improve preparedness for
detecting and managing imported cases. Countries are also being advised to
increase risk communications especially at all points of entry. The committee
is also recommending the use of other experimental Ebola vaccines like that
developed by Johnson and Johnson to increase the number of vaccines available
for vaccinations. The vaccine is currently undergoing Phase 1B human trials in
Out of the nine countries that border DRC, only Uganda has reported cases of
Ebola. No case has been reported in Central African Republic, Congo,
Angola, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia.