The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is mobilizing staff and resources to help the national authorities of Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) prevent the spread of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) following the reports of new shoots in the last two weeks. .
“We need rapid containment actions on all fronts so that we can save as many lives as possible and minimize negative impacts on people’s health, social and economic well-being,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.
“With both countries already dealing with COVID-19, health and other essential services are on edge.”
IOM’s public health interventions use analysis of human mobility within and across international borders to inform specific preparedness and response measures for infectious disease outbreaks.
In Guinea, as of February 17, three cases had been confirmed in the southeastern prefecture of N’Zérékoré, which borders Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, and the capital, Conakry. This is the first time EVD has been reported in the country since the 2014-2016 outbreak, which spread across land borders into Sierra Leone and Liberia, claiming more than 11,300 lives.
IOM Guinea is coordinating with the Ministry of Health and has an office in N’Zérékoré with a public health team that includes two doctors and an epidemiologist. IOM has been asked to intensify surveillance-related activities and will deploy personnel at points of entry along borders, to support contact tracing, population mobility mapping and other critical activities. In addition, the Organization is reactivating the public health emergency operations center (PH-EOC) in N’Zérékoré, seconding a doctor and establishing two health checkpoints in Goueké, the current access point.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as of February 17, at least four new cases of EVD had been reported in North Kivu province, in the eastern part of the country. The previous outbreak that affected the same area, the country’s 10th EVD outbreak, considered the second largest in the world, was declared terminated in June 2020 after taking the lives of more than 3,400 people.
An IOM team was dispatched to Butembo, where the first case was detected, to support the health authorities in strengthening surveillance. On February 15, three health checkpoints were reactivated, and an update of the mobility mapping exercises of the existing population is also being carried out to guide the positioning of additional health checkpoints.
“After many years of fighting the virus on the ground, together with communities and public officials, IOM has learned a number of lessons,” said Director General Vitorino. “It is essential to remember that this disease moves fast and its effects can be catastrophic, so there is no time to lose.”
IOM EVD Preparatory Activities in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Since 2014, IOM Guinea has been working hand in hand with the Government to improve preparedness by providing technical support for the establishment of PH-EOC at the national and prefectural level, strengthening capacities at points of entry (airports, ports and border crossings terrestrial). ), supporting the implementation of community surveillance in real time through a network of more than 9,000 volunteers, donating equipment to more than 80 health centers and more.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a challenging operating environment due to ongoing conflict and a protracted humanitarian crisis, IOM has been a key player in responses to the ninth, tenth, and eleventh EVD outbreaks, respectively, in the Equateur provinces, North Kivu and Equateur.
The Organization deployed more than 1,500 frontline workers who performed more than 194 million medical examinations in 169 critical locations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighboring countries: South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. In addition, more than 30 exercises were carried out to map the mobility of the population within and outside the borders.