Beni, Congo — A top United Nations official said there is a very high risk that Africa’s latest Ebola outbreak will spread. It has killed nearly 1,100 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the epicenter of the outbreak, many face another danger, other than the disease.
Charity, 2, is fighting for her life at the ALIMA treatment center in Beni. She was admitted Wednesday with her critically ill mother Kabuo Safi, who lies isolated in another plastic cube, too sick to tend to her little girl.
There have been major advances in the treatment of Ebola since the last deadly outbreak in 2014. Now patients are put in plastic cubes which provides a protective barrier between doctor and patient. There is also a new Ebola vaccine which should be good news for the Democratic Republic of Congo in its fight against its deadliest outbreak to date.
Except this epidemic is in a war zone. The World Health Organization’s Ebola manager, Dr. Michel Yao, said their hospitals are repeatedly being targeted by the more than 30 armed militia groups roaming the forests around the hot zones.
“Any time that you have an incident it take weeks to recover. The last incident was around April when our WHO colleague unfortunately got killed. It took us like three weeks to recover,” Yao said.
But the violence has not deterred Esperance Musinda from her work at the UNICEF children’s unit. She herself is an Ebola survivor. Here they don’t wear protective gear as survivors are immune from further infection. The survivors look after babies suspected of contracting the virus, but who desperately need a loving touch in order to thrive.
Musinda said she’s not afraid of Ebola. Instead, she’s afraid of the violence.
Another survivor also called Esperance which means hope, lost both her children to the disease. Caring for these babies is a painful reminder of her own loss. She went to get treated for malaria, ended up with Ebola and her two children died. Yet now she works with other children in need.
This is the country’s tenth Ebola outbreak and it’s getting worse every day. But while people may be used to death, they haven’t given up on hope just yet.
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