ECDC - European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

03/31/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/31/2021 04:49

Postcard from the field: Responding to the Ebola outbreak in Equateur Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo

This context also represents one of the main challenges for conducting surveillance in Equator Province: limited accessibility to remote rural locations and lack of communication networks. Furthermore, responding to this outbreak in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic essentially meant that we had to manage two epidemics at the same time.

By the end of the eleventh Ebola outbreak in Equateur Province, there had been 119 confirmed and 11 probable cases, 55 deaths and 75 people who had recovered. More than 40 000 people were vaccinated against EVD, and despite the challenging context, a complex vaccine cold chain was established. By the end, the outbreak response had actively engaged community members to increase their understanding of the virus by visiting more than 574 000 households and providing over three million people with relevant health and safety information.

For us, this deployment was a great opportunity to learn from a very experienced team in the field, whose members had previously been involved in the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa and eastern DRC. Many of them were also former or current FETP/TEPHINET fellows and graduates. It was also a great opportunity to transfer the outbreak investigation and surveillance skills learned at our training sites to the field. Finally, joining the response team during the transition to the post-outbreak period highlighted the importance of having a good surveillance system and the capacity not only to control outbreaks but also to prevent their re-occurrence.

Iris Finci and Héloïse Lucaccioni

FETP - Field Epidemiology Training Program (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

TEPHINET - Training programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (part of the Task Force for Global Health)