For the third time in recent years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declined to declare the ongoing Ebola outbreak and spreading of the disease in parts of Western Africa as an emergency, a decision announced during a press conference earlier this month.
Many global health experts have argued against this, claiming the WHO should instead declare a medical emergency to bring this epidemic to the world’s attention.
The outbreak, which began in August 2018, has been centered in the eastern Congo with about 1,400 people having succumbed to the disease and over 2,100 remaining infected. The numbers are the largest since 2013-2016 when three times as many people in western African succumbed to the virus. During that period, 11,000 died while more than 28, 000 were infected.
The first outside of the Congo has now been documented in Uganda at the border after a young boy, five, who had been visiting family. On June 10, he along with other relatives sought to return to Uganda, but they were stopped at the border as the boy and his brother appeared to be ill. Their temperatures were taken and they were later placed in isolation. However, others managed to escape into Uganda and it is presumed that some of them may be infected.
Fortunately, Uganda has been preparing for the outbreak to hit their land given their close proximity to the Congo. Officials say they believe that with the proper resources, they should be able to effectively and preemptively provide care and keep the epidemic at bay.
The WHO had previously requested about $98 million for research but would be granted significantly less in the amount of $44 million, an amount deemed insufficient for conducting adequate experimentation and research.
In addition, adequate support efforts have remained hampered because of a tenuous political climate and ongoing wars in the region.
The committee that advised the WHO against the declaration worried that by issuing an emergency throughout the area, that the economy of the Congo and the surrounding area would be greatly negatively impacted and would cause far more harm than good for its citizens.
Compiled by Olivia Boyd, WI Intern