Ebola Response 'Failing In DR Congo'

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"The existing atmosphere can only be described as toxic", she said, adding that this "shows how the response has failed to listen and act on the needs of those most affected".

MSF recently pulled its staff from Kawta and Butembo following violent attacks on its Ebola treatment centers (ETCs), but it has maintained its operations in other parts of North Kivu province and in neighboring Ituri province.

As a result, people are still reluctant to bring the sick to treatment centres.

'Using police to force people into complying with health measures is not only unethical it's totally counter-productive, ' she said.

Despite telling the DRC military that their treatment centres are a military-free zone armed personnel continue to bring patients in, MSF said.

International MSF president Joanne Liu says the Ebola epidemic, the largest ever in DRC, is taking place amid growing political, social and economic grievances. 'The communities are not the enemy. "The police and the army are not involved in Ebola response activities and their role has never been to enforce sanitary measures".

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A health worker dressed in a protective suit walks past burned structures after attackers set fire to an Ebola treatment center run by Doctors Without Borders in the east Congolese town of Katwa, on February 25, 2019.

The Interior Ministry has been asked to guarantee security, as it is unacceptable for health officials to be threatened and attacked, or for the threat of violence to stop families burying their loved ones in a dignified and safe manner, she said. It added that community members have demanded overall security improvements across the area and that a return to security is one of MSF's conditions for returning to Butembo and Katwa.

Though the outbreak isn't under control, the ministry said progress so far is remarkable, given population movements and security challenges. Local officials, unlike worldwide staffers, did not have the privilege of being evacuated for security reasons, she said.

Forty percent of deaths were outside medical centers, meaning patients had not sought care, and 35 percent of new patients were not linked to existing cases, meaning the spread of the disease was not being tracked.

The New York Times on Thursday contributed the story of a family that dressed up a young woman who died of Ebola, painted her face with makeup, propped her up in the seat of a auto, and attempted to drive her through disease-control checkpoints so she could be buried next to her husband, a fellow Ebola victim.

The failure to overcome the ongoing epidemic has seen it evolve into the second largest ever breakout of its kind, trailing an epidemic between 2013-2016 which killed about 11,300 people in West Africa as it surged through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

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