The current Ebola flare-up is cause for more serious concern than first thought. According to Medicines Sans Frontieres, the containment zone for the latest infections appears spreading to north Kivu, including the urban areas of Butembo and Kalenguta. While the number of cases reported was low, the infections are expected to rise rapidly, creating a potential health crisis crossing the border into Uganda and Rwanda. Currently 440 have reported ebola-like symptoms with 392 confirmed cases.
“We are very concerned by the epidemiological situation in the Butembo area. We now know that this outbreak will last and that we must increase our efforts to get it under control,” says John Johnson, MSF project coordinator in Butembo.
Complicating the efforts of medical aid workers is the ongoing strife on the ground. Being historically unstable, the most recent civil unrest sliding in to small scale warfare is the refusal of current president Joseph Kabila to leave office. The conflict has led to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, a common practice in that part of the world. This level of instability and brutality obviously has negative consequences for competent aid workers, just as concerned about their safety as they are treating the afflicted areas, especially among females.
While the MSF is optimistic, the potential spread rate to neighboring nations is alarming- and with those nations being nearly as unstable as the Congo, presents a potential humanitarian crisis worse than that of the 2014-2016 west African outbreak. As my source from the Red Cross noted, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. I pray he’s wrong but its something to keep an eye on nonetheless.