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DRC: Ebola spreads faster, many do not seek care

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The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) confirmed that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was going worse as they faced resistance from some communities to allow them to vaccinate and bury the dead following issues of trust and misinformation.

On Thursday, it was announced that Tuesday had been the worst day in the now eight month-long outbreak. 18 new Ebola cases were confirmed (the highest single day figure) and 10 people died, including eight who died in their communities having not sought treatment and support.

“This is a very distressing development,” Emanuele Capobianco, IFRC’s director of health and care, stated. “The bottom line is that Ebola is now spreading faster, and many people are no longer seeking care. It is clear that some vulnerable communities do not trust Ebola responders.”

IFRC members are using traditional containment methods to fight the spread of Ebola. They include isolating and confirming cases, providing protective gear for health care workers, using safe burial procedures, and educating the public about how to reduce their risks.

“Trust can be built by going community to community, working with local leaders and villagers, listening to their concerns with empathy, and incorporating their feedback and preferences into how we work,” Capobianco explained. “Our research and experience show that when in-depth community engagement takes place, acceptance of outside assistance improves significantly.”

Capobianco emphasised another big issue –  the lack of proper funding.

“The efforts of the Red Cross and other responders are also hampered by considerable funding shortfalls. Last month, the [IFRC] and the International Committee of the Red Cross launched a revised emergency appeal for 31.5 million Swiss francs to support response activities in DR Congo as well as preparedness activities in neighbouring countries. So far, only 11.1 million Swiss francs have been received,” he advised.

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