Apr 14, 2019 10:17 AM EDT
GENEVA -- There is an ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo and despite the great number of deaths, the United Nations said that it still doesn't warrant as a global emergency. Rather, it is of "deep concern" for the World Health Organization, as their report states on Friday.
After a meeting among its experts discussed the efforts to be double its efforts to put a stop on the virus that has affected communities in Congo, the UN announced that they are not worried about the number of Ebola patients in Congo. The recent spike in the number of patients affected by it raised the risk of a possible spread of the disease in other countries.
The outbreak was formally announced in August 1, 2018 and has killed hundreds of people. In fact, the experts say that it is the second deadliest outbreak in history. The first one was the one in West Africa that lasted for two years and killed more than 11,000 people. The health ministry of Congo reported 1,206 confirmed cases, including a death toll of 764 people.
Committee chair Robert Steffen reported that the decision to not make it a global problem was unanimous. They feared that it might hurt the efforts that the UN is doing to prevent more people from dying. Although he did not give further details as to the decision, he said that the experts of the World Health Organization and the UN feel "moderately optimistic" about the situation and that they believe that the outbreak will be controlled within a "foreseeable time."
However, ahead of the announcement that the WHO made, an official of the Red Cross expressed his great concern on the outbreak. Its possible regional spread is alarming. Emanuele Capobianco, head of the Red Crescent Societies cited the report released by the Congo Health Ministry that showed 40 new cases in two days. He referred to this as an unprecedented one, not even for this outbreak.
Emergency declarations require an outbreak to be "serious, unexpected, and unusual," and that it threatens other countries to a point that it requires "immediate action from the international committee." Emergency declarations help the situation better as it would boost global attention, not to mention donations will be flooding in.
"The decision of the World Health Organization is truly disappointing. They are taking a rather narrow interpretation of the situation," said Rebecca Katz, a global health security experts from Georgetown University. She also referred to the seemingly coordinated response as something rather "alarming."
In contrast, Trish Newport, a representative of Doctors Without Borders, said that "Bigger help is not necessarily better help." After nine months of using the same strategy, she believes that the problem in Congo is "still not under control."
Tariq Riebl, the doctor based in the current Ebola hot spot said, "We are discovering cases of Ebola when it has become too late." He said that there were reports when patients die of Ebola and were buried without the authorities knowing.
"Given the number of cases that we have now, we might have difficulty putting an end to it in six months." Riebl said.
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