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Congo and Rwanda upbeat over joint Ebola fight roadmap, WHO says small progress visible

Christian Fernsby |
The Minister for Health for Rwanda, Dr Diane Gashumba, and her Congolese counterpart Dr Eteni Longondo, have commended the progress that the two countries have made in implementing a joint roadmap for cross-border efforts meant to combat the spread of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic.

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The two officials met on Monday evening in Rubavu District on the Rwandan side of the border to assess the progress of a joint mechanism for prevention and control the Ebola Virus that the two countries discussed and agreed last month.

A strategy to strengthen cooperation, particularly in the field of public health, is part of the roadmap that the two countries signed.

According to officials from the two countries, a lot has been done to curb the spread of Ebola that has recently been recorded in the Congolese city of Goma which is close to the Rwandan border, prompting rapid response teams to swing into action to prevent further transmission.

As part of the roadmap implementation, joint cross-border Ebola prevention and response action plan and technical meetings have been held in Goma and Bukavu (in DR Congo) to strengthen prevention and surveillance measures in the cross-border communities.

Officials from the two countries have also met in Congo Brazzaville for an advocacy meeting attended by the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and the WHO African Regional Director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti to discuss the implementation of the cross-border plan.

Dr Longondo reiterated his country’s commitment toward eliminating Ebola as well as curbing the epidemic spread across its neighbours.

According to the latest weekly bulletin from the World Health Organization's (WHO's) African regional office, the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is experiencing a drop in the rate of new cases, but it's too early to say if that drop is a significant trend forecasting the end of the 13-month-long outbreak in the DRC's North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri provinces.

"There are early signs of the outbreak easing, including the decrease in numbers of new confirmed cases in Beni and Mandima and the lack of new confirmed cases for 21 days in Alimbongo and Oicha," the WHO said. "However, it is too soon to know if this is an indication of a decrease in transmission intensity of [Ebola virus disease]."

In the past 21 days, 13 health zones confirmed cases of Ebola, and officials confirmed 37 new cases since Sep 8. In September, the virus hot spots have been Kalunguta (22% of new cases) Mambasa (17%), Manama (15%), and Beni (13%).

"A total of 13,294 contacts are under follow-up as of 13 September 2019, of which 11,891 have been seen in the past 24 hours, comprising 89% of the contacts, comparable to that during the past seven days (90%)," the WHO said. As of Sep 13, 17% of all alerts concerning Ebola were deemed suspected cases.

As of today, the WHO's Ebola dashboard is showing just 1 newly confirmed case, raising the outbreak total to 3,130, including 2,096 deaths. A total of 402 suspected cases are still under investigation.

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