Ebola now a global emergency

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The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

“It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Extraordinary work has been done for almost a year under the most difficult circumstances. We all owe it to these responders ─ coming from not just WHO but also government, partners and communities ─ to shoulder more of the burden.”

The declaration occurred following a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for Ebola in the DRC and emerged from recent updates in the outbreak, including its spread to Goma. The Committee stressed the need to protect livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open.

“It is important that the world follows these recommendations. It is also crucial that states do not use the PHEIC as an excuse to impose trade or travel restrictions, which would have a negative impact on the response and on the lives and livelihoods of people in the region,” said Professor Robert Steffen, Chair of the Emergency Committee.

“At the heart of this are communities and individual tragedies,” said Dr Tedros. “The PHEIC should not be used to stigmatise or penalise the very people who are most in need of our help.”