Ebola in DR Congo: Johanniter Focus On Prevention
Berlin / Goma, 04 December 2019
Since the Ebola outbreak in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Johanniter has been fighting against the spread of the deadly virus. The focus is on the province of North Kivu, where basic health care has been supported for many years. The armed conflict makes the preventive measures more difficult.
For years, the mountainous region in the east of DR Congo has been the scene of armed clashes between rebel groups, militias and state forces that have forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Poor conditions to combat a virus like Ebola, which has infected more than 3,300 people and killed more than 2,200 since the outbreak.
"The permanent violence against the population forces them to flee and the virus is carried on. The people live in the forest, in tents or with other families without access to food and clean water. As a result, diseases such as measles and cholera are on the rise again," says Florian Meyer, Johanniter project coordinator for DR Congo. More than 5000 people - most of them children - died due of a measles outbreak last year.
Trust thanks to many years of work
In order to fight the virus, Johanniter focuses on education. Employees train helpers which have been selected by the community beforehand. This is an advantage, because they enjoy great trust and their word often counts more than that of strangers. Mistrust sits too deep in a region marked by violence.
The Johanniter have gained trust with their presence in the country since 1995. In recent years, several health stations have been built or rehabilitated, equipped with medicines and medical equipment, and staff have received professional and financial support. The additional Ebola education has contributed to the fact that no Ebola cases have yet occurred in the Masisi and Mweso health zones where Johanniter works.