The ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could continue indefinitely without proper funding and an end to in-country fighting, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In a speech to Member States in Geneva, WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus flagged a severe funding gap in response that is only exacerbating matters made critical by the in-fighting. The organization needs $54 million beyond the $44 million they have already acquired to be able to even sustain their current level of response. Nor are they the only ones. WHO has noted several partners that have reduced or stopped operations altogether as a result of funding gaps.
“Political cooperation must come from across party lines and across borders,” Tedros said. “Bipartisan political leadership in DRC is the only way that communities will eventually understand the threat of Ebola and take ownership in ending the outbreak. Meanwhile, other countries have a global responsibility to support the dedicated health responders—from DRC, from across Africa and across the world—who are bravely working to save lives.”
Tedros himself has met with the DRC’s Prime Minister Sylvester Ilunga Ilunkamba, opposition leaders, religious leaders, and organizational partners, as well as community leaders. Yet even as outreach is ongoing, multiple attacks on health workers and facilities have caused fear to spread, even as increased vaccination efforts are showing effect in hotspot regions.
“I met with many leaders from all sectors of society,” Tedros said. “They agreed that they all have a role to play to help people understand the gravity of this disease. The virus steps between the gaps when we do not join hands.”