Battle against Ebola being lost amid militarized response, MSF says

Battle against Ebola being lost amid militarized response, MSF says

Battle against Ebola being lost amid militarized response, MSF says

It emerged in eastern North Kivu province in August and later spread to neighbouring Ituri province, both of which are wracked by inter-communal violence and unrest.

A World Health Organization worker administers a vaccination during the launch of a campaign aimed at beating an outbreak of Ebola in the port city of Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo, on 21 May 2018. "Using police to force people into complying with health measures is not only unethical, it's totally counterproductive".

In an excoriating attack on the response to the long-running outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo Dr Joanne Liu, global president of Médecins Sans Frontières, said that the current atmosphere in the region was "toxic".

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) held a press conference on Thursday explaining the long-term implications if the outbreak isn't brought under control.

"They hear constant advice to wash their hands, but nothing about the lack of soap and water", Liu said. "On the one hand, we have a rapid and large outbreak response with new medical tools such as vaccines and treatments that show promising outcomes when people come early".

It highlighted that more than 40% of deaths are occurring in communities rather than in Ebola treatment centres.

It also raised the alarm over a heavy-handed use of security forces in a region rampant with rebel fighters, which Liu claimed contributed to the creation of a "toxic" atmosphere.

DRC officials countered by insisting military personnel deployed to the outbreak area are not "involved in Ebola response activities" and have not been instructed to "enforce sanitary measures". "Then they see their possessions burned", she said.

This "means we don't know how they got it", Lieu said.

The charity said the epidemic would not end until authorities treated patients as "partners in the response" and increased efforts to "listen to their needs, not preach to or coerce them".

Many on the ground were also frustrated, she said, to see vaccines given only to a small circle of people believed to have had direct or indirect contact with the sick.

"Ebola responders are increasingly being seen as the enemy", said the president of Doctors Without Borders.

They "feel that Ebola has been used as an excuse for political manoeuvres", she said.

Congo has seen periodic outbreaks of the Ebola virus since it was first identified in 1976, though its latest epidemic has now become the second most deadly in history worldwide.

The epidemic is the second-largest ever, after the one in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014 to 2016, which sickened 28,610 people and killed 11,308.

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