The courage to tackle Ebola in the DRC

HealthHygieneWater and sanitationD.R. Congo

In recent weeks, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported a marked increase in the number of Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Tearfund and our partner organisations are there, working in challenging circumstances to try and curb the spread of the disease.

The current outbreak is primarily in the North Kivu and Ituri Provinces, in the east of the country. As of 31 March, 1069 people have contracted the virus and 665 have died.

The outbreak is a major concern as it is centred in the two cities of Beni and Butembo, which are major trading hubs for the region. Some humanitarian groups having pulled out of the area after attacks on health facilities. Tearfund and our partners continue to work there and we are committed to serving the population.

Tackling Ebola here doesn’t come without risks.

High-risk work
Working alongside faith leaders we are sharing information with local communities on how to prevent Ebola spreading. This involves producing Ebola prevention songs in local languages for broadcast on the radio and for use by choirs; talks and announcements in church services; and door-to-door sharing. Tearfund is also helping 50 health centres to set up triage units, isolation units, latrines and basic water supplies.

Dr Kakule from Beni told Tearfund staff that the Batsurana Medical Center had been attacked and destroyed in 2018. This meant fewer people came for treatment. But, after Tearfund helped them restore the centre, more patients than ever are making use of the facilities. This is helping in the fight against Ebola.

Constant threats
Tackling Ebola here doesn’t come without risks. Some members of the local community are sceptical and can be hostile to those working to stop the spread of the disease. Meanwhile, a number of armed groups remain active in the area and pose a threat to the population, as well as those working there. 

When asked what keeps them going in this challenging context, Aaron Wolcott from Tearfund’s team in the DRC said: ‘We and our partners are honoured to serve our neighbours here with the love of Jesus. No one wants Ebola to keep on spreading. That is motivation for everyone to stop the virus.’

Please pray

• Ask God to bring comfort and healing to those who’ve lost loved ones.
• Pray that people will take heed of the information they are being given to stop the virus spreading any further.
• Pray for God to protect the Tearfund team and our partners – that they would be kept safe and healthy. And pray for their families who worry about their loved ones as they work close to the virus.

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.