Ebola: EU provides an additional €30 million to tackle the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Ebola 19

UNFPA Liberia Two midwives in Ebola protective gear supplied by UNFPA hand over a newborn to her mother at the Star of the Sea Clinic in West Point, Monrovia, Liberia.

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The EU is contributing a further €30 million in humanitarian funding for Ebola response in efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The second deadliest Ebola outbreak on record has claimed so far more than 1,700 lives in a country already facing a dire humanitarian situation. Today’s funding announcement brings total EU humanitarian aid to fight against Ebola to €47 million since 2018, when the current outbreak was declared.

Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, who is also the EU’s Ebola Coordinator, said: “The fight against the epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo stands at a crucial juncture. The EU is vastly stepping up its aid to save lives and prevent further infections. We are providing new support to the authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organisation, and humanitarian partners on the ground. We also stand in full solidarity with the frontline responders putting their life at risk to tackle the outbreak.”

The new EU funding will step up support for:

  • infection prevention and control measures,
  • working with local communities to foster their acceptance of the response, including contagion prevention measures, access to health care, and safe and dignified burials, and
  • support to Ebola survivors and their families.

Against the backdrop of a wider deteriorating humanitarian crisis, EU assistance will also address urgent humanitarian needs in Ebola-affected and high-risk areas by providing food, nutrition and access to health services and clean water.  

The Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo is taking place in a challenging security, political and societal context. Conflict, high population mobility, a frail health system, and community mistrust continue to hinder the Ebola response teams’ efforts in the country.

Background

While the Ebola virus epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo still remains confined to the eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, there has been a flare up in the number of confirmed cases since April 2019, with the city of Beni, Butembo and Katwa being the main hotspots. According to the World Health Organisation’s risk assessment, the risk of a national and regional spread of the disease remains very high, while the risk of a spread outside the region is low. On 14 July 2019 a case was detected in Goma, the main gateway city in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and three spillover cases reached Uganda in early June 2019.

The Ebola crisis was declared as a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organisation on 17 July 2019. In its rapid risk assessment published on 19 July 2019, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control concluded that the overall risk of introduction and spread of the Ebola virus to the EU/EEA remains very low.

How the EU is helping to fight Ebola:

  • since August 2018, provided €47 million humanitarian aid funding to aid organisations in the Democratic Republic of Congo involved in various actions in the Ebola response in Ebola-affected or high-risk areas.
  • making available the use of the EU’s Humanitarian Air ServiceECHO flight, to help humanitarian workers on the ground, by transporting personnel and equipment to Ebola-affected areas. Over 110 such flights have been operated to date.
  • having EU humanitarian health experts in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are involved in the coordination of the response.
  • supporting, through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism,training on the use of high-tech isolation units for the medical evacuations of humanitarian workers. Six such isolation units were provided by Norway through the Mechanism to the Ebola response.
  • financial support to Ebola vaccine development and research on Ebola treatments and diagnostic tests (receivedover €160 million and €16.25 million, respectively, in EU funding since 2014).
  • supporting the health sector in the DRC through a development cooperation programme (€180 million from the 11th European Development Fund 2014-2020). Since February 2019, the EU is supporting with almost €6 million the provision of free health care services over a period of six months in eight Ebola-affected areas within the framework of the current Ebola Response Plan.
  • established, in cooperation with the World Health Organisation, a mechanism for the medical evacuation of health and humanitarian workers for treatment in the EU.
  • supporting Ebola prevention and preparedness measures in neighbouring countries to the Ebola-affected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since 2018, the EU has allocated over €3.6 million in Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi to strengthen their rapid detection and reaction measures to Ebola cases, in case of a spillover.

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