Representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) stated at the 72nd World Health Assembly this week that continued breakdowns in communication, data, and planning are hindering an effective response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
That outbreak, which has been ongoing for nearly a year, has killed almost 1,300 people, and health officials fear that its effects will continue long after containment. Efforts from international and local responders are insufficient, and the risk of the disease crossing international borders is real. WHO officials and representatives from the Democratic Republic of Congo also noted that specific action is needed to help fill a $28 million gap in regional outbreak preparedness.
Conflict and political divisions have also exacerbated the spread of the disease, making response difficult, and leaving responders desperately searching for means to detect, prevent, and contain threats where they originate.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America has backed such assessments with calls for collaborative efforts to advance new Ebola vaccine candidates, introduce new technologies and diagnostics, strengthen health systems, increase community engagement and expand interventions where culturally appropriate. In the United States, they have been joined by the HIV Medicine Association in pushing for funding and support.