The World Health Organisation has announced that Ebola vaccination has begun in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu Province on Monday, Oct. 13 after a case was confirmed on Wednesday, Oct. 8.
The vaccination will be given to people at high risk, including contacts of the confirmed case and first responders.
They will receive the doses as the health authorities move to curb the spread of the virus.
According to the report on WHO website, medical supplies and about 1000 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine were delivered from the capital Kinshasa to Goma city in North Kivu and around 200 doses were sent onward to Beni city, which is near the Butsili health area where the confirmed case was detected.
The “ring vaccination” approach has been adapted by vaccinators, where contacts and contacts of contacts are vaccinated.
So far, DRC has stated that 12 000 vaccine doses in Kinshasa can be deployed if necessary.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa disclosed DRC has been spearheading efforts to halt this latest Ebola resurgence, banking on expertise built from responding to previous outbreaks.
“Ebola is a virulent, lethal virus that can spread aggressively and fast. But vaccines can create a firewall of protection around cases, stopping the chain of transmission, averting a potentially large outbreak and saving many lives,” Moeti said.
In addition to the vaccination process, emergency response teams are working towards tracing contacts, decontaminating infected spaces, and stepping up surveillance and testing.
So far, WHO stated that more than 170 contacts have been identified and teams in DRC are monitoring their health.
To support the national authorities in the response efforts, WHO has released US$ 200 000 through its Contingency Fund for Emergencies.
The global health body is also in the process of shipping five tons worth of response supplies, including therapeutics, personal protective equipment and laboratory materials.
Among the first members of the 15-person WHO surge team deployed to Beni is an expert in the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse.
The expert, according to WHO, will brief WHO employees and partners on how to behave and prevent any inappropriate and abusive behaviour. The expert will also work with local non-governmental organisations to sensitise communities on sexual abuse and how to report it.
Beni was one of the epicentres of the 2018–2020 Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is about 50 km from Butembo city which experienced a new Ebola outbreak earlier this year.
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