The death toll from Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has risen to over 1,000, according to its government. Tearfund staff and our network of church partners are there, doing all they can to contain the spread of the disease.
David McAllister, Country Director for the DRC, says Tearfund has an important position among many humanitarian groups working there: ‘Our deep connections with the church have allowed us to uniquely access remote communities and provide immediate assistance.’
Since August 2018 there have been more than 100 deaths a month – an average of four deaths every day. This makes it the second deadliest outbreak of the disease ever.
Fighting for truth
The current outbreak is primarily in the North Kivu and Ituri Provinces, in the east of the country. The 2014-2016 outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia killed more than 11,000 people. However, the true extent of this outbreak in the DRC in not yet clear, with fears it could spread through major cities or across national borders.
Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) is yet to declare a global health emergency, efforts to bring it under control have been hampered by conflict and mistrust of the communities towards humanitarian and government officials.
Some people are sceptical and can be hostile to those working to stop the spread of the disease. Added to this, a number of armed groups remain active in the area and pose a threat to the population, as well as those working there. Several Ebola treatment centres have come under attack.
Tearfund and our partner organisations in the DRC are working in challenging circumstances to try and curb the spread of Ebola.
Together with faith leaders, we are sharing information with local communities on how to prevent the disease from 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 supporting 50 health centres, ensuring they have essential medical supplies and are able to access safe water.
‘Despite the current mistrust leading to violence against the humanitarian community, there is still hope as God will not leave his people alone,’ said Syvain Kanyamanda, Mayor of Butembo town, where Ebola has hit hard.
We lift up to you the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo: for those who are suffering with Ebola, for those in fear of it and for those working to bring an end to this outbreak. We also ask for peace, for the fighting and hostilities to cease and for this nation to flourish once again.
In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.