Friday, December 7, 2018

Traditional Healers fuelling Ebola spread

By Esther Nakkazi

In the past three weeks, a significant increase in Ebola cases has been observed in Butembo and Katwa with the main challenges in these areas related to the high density and mobility of the population in this major trading city of North Kivu, said Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the Minister of Health, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Another observed an unusual aspect of this epidemic is the role played by centers of traditional health practitioners in the transmission of the virus that a key factor in nosocomial infections. Nosocomial infection is an infection that is acquired in a hospital or other health care facility and is spread to the susceptible patient in the clinical setting by various means.

DRC ministry of health officials says a parallel consequence of these nosocomial infections is the contamination of a large number of healthcare providers. To date, 44 health workers have been infected (9% of the total number of cases), of whom 12 have died.

"Strengthening infection prevention and control measures in public, private and traditional health facilities is one of the priorities of the teams today," said Dr. Ilunga at a press conference in Kinshasa held Thursday, December 6, 2018.

Dr. IIunga also observed a reluctance by the community which is more violent than the reluctance usually observed during previous Ebola outbreaks.

"A minority of the population in these areas express their reluctance through the regular destruction of medical equipment and health centers as well as the physical attacks of health workers," he said.

Meanwhile, vaccination is still ongoing with more than 40,000 vaccinated people, and vaccination teams have averted more than 10,000 Ebola cases in 4 months or nearly half of the balance sheet of the epidemic in West Africa that lasted 2 years.

Since the beginning of vaccination on August 8, 2018, 41,226 people have been vaccinated, including 18,270 in Beni, 6,272 in Katwa, 4,578 in Mabalako, 3,556 in Butembo, 2,092 in Kalunguta, 1,663 in Mandima, 769 in Vuhovi, 750 in Masereka, 599 in Mutwanga, 521 in Oicha, 434 in Bunia, 409 in Komanda, 392 in Lubero, 355 in Tchomia, 274 in Musienene, 241 in Kyondo, and 51 in Alimbongo.

Continuation of vaccination of front-line providers in Lubero as a preventive measure in the context of the preparation of the health zone also continues.

Dr. Ilunga cautioned that the epidemic will last for several months and that the risk of spread will remain high until the epidemic is completely extinguished.

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