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Gunfire, threats and invasions slow down Congo's fight against Ebola

GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Reuters) – When doctors tried to reach Ebola patients in a village in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo during a recent assault of violence, they were blocked by men using machetes and axis.

FILE PHOTO: A medical worker is wearing a protective suit as he prepares to administer Ebola's patient care at the International Alliance for Action Medical (ALIMA) treatment center in Beni, North Kivu, the Congo Democratic Republic, September 6, 2018. Photo taken in September 6, 2018. REUTERS / Fiston Mahamba / File Photo

Worried about being kidnapped, they turn back, the latest in a series of disadvantages in their efforts to include the worst cases of the deadly virus in the central country of Africa.

As fighting has worsened between competitive militia trying to manage land and natural resources, essential vaccinations and treatments have been aggravating delays and Ebola has spread.

The situation has become so dangerous in the eastern Congo that humanitarian workers are temporarily removed last month from their center in the town of Beni in the Kivu region near Rwanda and Uganda.

With a huge country of more than 80 million people also suffering from political instability and facing a refugee crisis, World Health Organization experts see it as one of the most complex public health challenges in recent history .

"Sometimes in the field we hear bullets fly from left to right and we tell ourselves that she may go to hit one of us," said Mimi Kambere, an emergency response co-ordinator For an Oxfam not-for-profit group, the men with machetes face their team.

"Sometimes, the uncertainties push us not to respond to calls, and not to enter specific areas for days," he told Reuters at Goma, the town on the northern banks of Lake Kivu that he did she and other health workers were moved on. 17.

The tenth case of Congo since Ebola was discovered in 1976 has infected 422 people and killed 241 in the past four months. It will become the second largest causes of the disease if it exceeds the 425 cases recorded in Uganda in 2000, according to Congo health ministry records.

The disease is spread by contact with physical fluids and causes hemorrhagic fever with severe vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding. In many shortcomings, more than half of the cases are fatal. In the worst cases, which began in 2013, more than 11,000 people were killed in three years, mainly in Liberia, Gini and Sierra Leone.

Traceability of patient and pulmonary immunization links with Ebola rapidly included in a peaceful western western Congo area this year. This hoped that new ways of fighting Ebola could reduce its length, even in urban areas.

But in what the World Health Organization official in Geneva is the name of "perfect perfect storm", North Kivu is now popular in the wrestling of the fighting and Ebola.

The WHO crisis committee in October said the case was likely to get worse if the response was stepped up. In November, the number of new cases rose, and the virus spreads to areas that have not been removed in advance.

An internal note was recorded by the United Nations Human Rights Coordination (UNHCR), seen by Reuters, 28 violent incidents affecting the Ebola response teams between August and November.



International health and Congolese health workers are not only blocked by guns. They often face what the WHO calls for "some reluctance, refusal and resistance" by some Congolese to receive treatment.

Some of the Congo believe that doctors are coming to spread the disease with their vaccination needles. Others do not believe that the virus exists at all. Many doctors, especially local staff, have received oral mortal threats and have had dropped rocks in their cars, they told Reuters.

Such actions, the WHO say, are driven by fear of Ebola and is being invited by local politicians before a presidential election in December.

Those who seek medical help often find sick medical facilities where the virus spreads, says doctors.

The scope of the implementation of humanitarian workers has also limited by shortening the working day under the bodies set by government, NGOs and U.N. because of the fight.

This delays essential services such as the blood tests and safe burials of Ebola victims to help prevent the spread of the virus.

"Armed groups that attack Beni are a huge obstacle to our staff," said Michel Yao, the WHO event manager Beni.

In some areas, the WHO must request the consent of armed groups to access new patients. Telephone discussions to secure safe safe delays of essential early care, says Yao, and prevent vaccination schemes.

"We had never had to discuss access to patients from before. The precision of this case is from Ebola," said Yao.

WHO staff, together with representatives of the Global Food Program and UNICEF support agency, were among dozens of people who were removed for a psychological evaluation after fighting in Peni two weeks ago where 12 Congolese allies were killed and seven ONE policeman, says the WHO.

Gunfire came close to the town's Ebola Emergency Center and homestay hotel-house workers. The shells landed on a building where WHO staff stayed but did not explode.

"It was scary because violence is not usually close," said the UNICEF worker who asked not to be named.

To avoid roaming bullets, he followed advice that was being put into training.

"I'm going into my room and crew in the shower. I was stuck in the shower for three hours," he said.


Effectively Ebola includes fast work under pressure: health workers need to check all possible new causes, take blood samples, isolation and illness and track everyone in whom they have been infected.

He contributed a slow international response to the rapid expansion of Ebola in West Africa in 2013, the case that has developed the worst to date.

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In Congo, visiting the potential of patients often involves driving for many hours along rural roads, says health workers. In eastern Congo which can mean danger.

Beni's laboratory receives blood samples from 50 to 70 per day by health workers in the field, but those tests have slowed down due to the time constraints imposed by the bodies, said Congo's health ministry spokesman Jessica Llunga.

"Until we have confirmation that the Ebola patient has, we can not transfer it to a center and we can not vaccinate its connections, which also block the fight against the epidemic," he said.

Additional reports by Kate Kelland in London. Edited by Edward McAllister and Timothy Heritage

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