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WHO declares global public health emergency over Ebola outbreak in Congo

Published on 18/07/19 at 09:43am

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a global public health emergency.

The UN health organisation has declared a global public health emergency over the Ebola outbreak, after an emergency committee meeting in Geneva. The decision comes soon after the WHO said they would not declare a public health emergency in June 2019.

According to the WHO a global public health emergency is “an extraordinary event that poses a public health risk to other countries through international spread and that potentially requires a coordinated international response.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO commented in a statement: “It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system,” said Dr. Tedros. “Extraordinary work has been done for almost a year under the most difficult circumstances. We all owe it to these responders -- coming from not just WHO but also government, partners and communities -- to shoulder more of the burden.”

He later tweeted: “Now is the time for the international community to stand in solidarity with the people of #DRC, not to impose punitive and counter-productive restrictions that will only serve to isolate DRC.”

The WHO has declared four global public health emergencies since the procedure was put in place in 2007: the first over the flu pandemic in 2009; the second over polio in 2014; the third over the Ebola outbreak in 2014; and the fourth over the Zika virus in 2016.

In a statemtent the WHO also said it welcomed efforts from Merck to boost production of the rVSV-EBOV vaccine. The US firm will double production of the Ebola vaccine by 2020.

Louis Goss

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