Africa: WHO and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Call On Countries in the Region to Work Together On the Ebola Response

Addis Ababa — The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) urge countries in the region to show solidarity with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which is experiencing its worst Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak. The two organizations call on countries in the region to redouble efforts to end the outbreak and build stronger health systems.

On 17 July, the WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the Ebola outbreak in the DRC a Public Health Emergency of International concern (PHEIC). The declaration followed a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for EVD in the DRC. The Committee cited recent developments in the outbreak including the first confirmed case in Goma, a city of almost two million people close to the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of the DRC and the world.

The Africa CDC and WHO strongly call on Member States in Africa and the international community to adhere to the requirements of the International Health Regulations (2005) including ensuring the national capacities to prevent, detect and respond to public health emergencies are strengthened.

The two organizations reiterate the need for all countries to adhere to the following recommendations:

No country should close its borders or place any restrictions on travel and trade, including general quarantine of travelers from the Ebola-affected countries, currently only the DRC. Such measures compromise economies and impede response operations.

There should be no requirement for certificates of Ebola vaccination for any movement across borders or for issuance of visas, as there is currently no licensed vaccine against Ebola.

Exit screening is recommended at international airports in affected countries (currently only the DRC).

Entry screening at international airports or other ports of entry outside countries neighbouring the DRC is not recommended as it is not effective and involves large amounts of resources.

National authorities should work with airlines, airports and other transport and tourism industries to encourage communication and collaboration, and to ensure that the measures adopted are in line with WHO guidance for travel and transport during outbreaks.

Currently, all countries in the region are following the above recommendations and ensuring no travel measures that interfere with international traffic to and from the DRC are implemented.

Under the leadership of the government of the DRC, Africa CDC and WHO are committed to working with partners to coordinate efforts and together increase support for the control of the Ebola outbreak.

Ever since the current outbreak was declared in August 2018, the Africa CDC has supported the efforts of the government of the DRC in several ways. These include deployment of 41 multi-disciplinary public health experts; training of more than 800 local healthcare workers and community volunteers; contributions to surveillance and investigations; and provision of personal protective equipment and GeneXpert machines to health facilities.

Alongside the Ministry of Health of the DRC, WHO is leading the coordination of the public health response. WHO is also providing technical leadership in the areas of surveillance, vaccination and case management. WHO has mobilised and deployed more than 700 international experts -71% of whom are from the African region - as part of the surge capacity needed to respond to the outbreak.

As of 24 July 2019, the Ministry of Health of the DRC reported 2,620 cases (2,526 confirmed and 94 probable) with 1,762 deaths and 737 survivors.

Notes to the Editor

The full list of IHR Recommendations and more information on:

https://www.who.int/ihr/procedures/statement-emergency-committee-ebola-drc-july-2019.pdf?ua=1

https://www.who.int/ith/who-recommendations-for-international-travel-19july2019/en/

About Africa CDC

The Africa CDC mission is to strengthen Africa's public health institution's capacities, capabilities and partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks based on science, policy, and data-driven interventions and programmes.

Learn more at: http://www.africacdc.org

About WHO

WHO is the leading global technical health agency. More information on the DRC Ebola outbreak and other public health emergencies at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/crises/cod/en/

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