Churches stepping up to tackle Ebola in the DRC

DiseaseWater and sanitationD.R. Congo

Tearfund church partners are leading a mass awareness campaign to prevent the spread of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Since the beginning of August, there have been 300 cases of Ebola (265 confirmed, 35 probable), including 186 deaths. The latest onset began soon after the DRC declared an end to another outbreak on the Western side of the country.

The virus has been most prevalent in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

On Monday 5 November, leaders from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations (UN) visited the DRC to monitor response efforts.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has declared a resolution calling for an immediate halt to attacks by armed groups in the DRC that are jeopardising the response to the Ebola outbreak.

Troubled times
Tearfund’s DRC Country Director, David McAllister, says the most recent outbreak has come as a huge shock to people there:

‘People here are already living in extreme poverty and there has been considerable fear about the disease spreading. Tearfund is already working in this very troubled region with a network of partner churches.

‘The ongoing and violent massacres are causing many thousands of people to flee their homes. Our deep connections with the church have allowed us to uniquely access remote communities and provide immediate assistance.’

Raising awareness
Church pastors and faith leaders have been key in educating their communities. Tearfund’s awareness campaign aims to reach 494,821 people at risk.

Pastors are sharing vital advice on washing hands, seeking medical help at the first sign of symptoms, and issuing guidelines on how to handle dead bodies, to curb the spread of disease. Some congregations are coming together to buy enough bleach for everyone in their church to maintain hygiene.

In addition Tearfund is also working to ensure that health facilities in the affected areas are equipped with adequate water and sanitation systems to prevent the further spread of Ebola.

David says he’s hopeful that this is making a vital difference: ‘We are confident that through all these measures, and together with the Government and other NGOs, this outbreak can be contained, and a large-scale crisis averted.’

PRAYER FOCUS

  • Please pray for those people who are infected with Ebola or who have lost loved ones in the DRC. Pray for healing and comfort.
  • Thank God for the courage of our church partners who are working in a very challenging context to bring hope and insight to communities.
  • Lift up the nation of DRC and pray for peace, and an end to the violent clashes.
Andrew Horton

Andrew is Online News and Film Editor for Tearfund. This involves finding and writing up inspiring articles for the website, and capturing compelling stories on video.