The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared over the deadly Ebola outbreak in the DR Congo after 22 months, 2287 deaths and 1171 survivors in an active conflict zone.
According to the WHO, no new cases have been reported in the North Kivu province since April 27.
Speaking after the announcement on Thursday, the WHO’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said “we should celebrate this moment, but we must resist complacency.”
“The outbreak took so much from all of us, especially from the people of DRC, but we came out of it with valuable lessons, and valuable tools. The world is now better-equipped to respond to Ebola. A vaccine has been licensed, and effective treatments identified,” added the WHO boss.
But Dr. Ghebreyesus cautioned against laxity and advocated the institutionalization of universal health coverage.
“Viruses do not take breaks. Ultimately, the best defence against any outbreak is investing in a stronger health system as the foundation for universal health coverage,” the first African head of the WHO explained.
What has been declared over was the DR Congo’s 10th outbreak which started in August 2018 in the eastern part of the country. There has been an 11th outbreak since June 1, 2020 but health officials say that is under control.
So far, 13 people have died in the latest outbreak.
But the regional director for the WHO, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, believes the DR Congo is “now better, smarter and faster at responding to Ebola” adding that, “this is an enduring legacy which is supporting the response to COVID-19 and other outbreaks.”
The efforts against the Ebola outbreaks in the country have been tainted with administrative inefficiencies and corruption accusations.
In March, a former health minister, Oly Ilunga, was sentenced to five years with hard labor alongside his financial advisor for stealing funds meant for the country’s fight against the Ebola virus.
Illunga was arrested last September for mismanaging funds allotted for the Ebola epidemic following his resignation as health minister after being stripped of responsibility for the fight against Ebola.
Foreign donors had provided over $150 million to combat the scourge in DR Congo where more than 3,000 people died from the outbreak since the beginning of the outbreaks years ago.