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DRC nationals still live in Ebola denial – Officials

FILE PHOTO: Health workers carry body of an Ebola patient.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Many people from the Democratic Republic of Congo still associate the deadly hemorrhagic fever with myths and misconceptions, more than a year after the viral fever outbreak-officials have said.

Dr Aloysius Tumwesigye, the district veterinary officer for Kanungu district who also heads the Ebola taskforce in the district says that many Congolese who cross to Uganda still try to avoid going through the designated screening points for Ebola at the border claiming that the disease is a result of witchcraft.

Tumwesigye said that while there are eight entry points to his district that are official and manned by security and health workers, there are 39 other points which are unmanned and yet bring in up to 2000 people from Congo especially on the market days on Thursdays and Saturdays. He was speaking during a Cross border meeting attended by officials from Uganda and DRC in Kampala.

But an official from the Ministry of Health of DR Congo Dr Christopher Mwaluka said their government has realized this challenge and they recently held a meeting in Goma where they resolved to involve the army especially at entry points to enforce screening and reduce on the resistance by the community.

He said the challenge of resistance was aggravated by the fact that during the election season last year, politicians would tell gatherings that the disease doesn’t exist.

With the new strategy of involving security operatives coupled with availability of support treatment and increased sensitization and involvement of the community, Mwaluka told Uganda Radio Network that the death rate as of last month had reduced to 34% from 67 per cent.

However, he noted that they were also challenged by the fact that some health workers refused to get vaccinated against Ebola which set a bad example to patients. He although adds that the health workers who resisted were not among those in the Ebola treatment centers.

Ebola which has since been declared global public health emergency started in August 2018 and by last week a report by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) an international medical humanitarian organization shows had affected more than 3000 people and yet over 2000 have succumbed.

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