DRC AGAINST EBOLA AND COVID-19 OUTBREAKS
“The Planet has survived everything, in its time. It will certainly survive us.”
I simply love mystical books, they wake up my curiosity, my feeling for adventure and I live thousand lives through one thrilling novel. One of such books is definitely “Congo” written by Michael Crichton, known as an author of legendary Jurassic Parc trilogy. I think I read his Congo when I was 17 and then again when I was 22. All I know is that my understanding of this book has been changed from my teenager days to my student days, because I learn to observe this world through the multidimensional perspective.
If you haven’t been to Africa, you missed one great experience. I don’t suggest we all need to travel far away to develop our horizons but it is a fact that meeting Africa is crucial for social and personal progress….and you can do it as a tourist, traveler, globetrotter or humanitarian. Africa is one of the most beautiful contents not only because of alluring landscape settings and undisturbed nature but also because very friendly, honest and magical people. The wonderful collage of difference is something that has always inspired me when I am in Africa, I feel accepted in that welcoming mixture of life joy, deep compassion, simple intentions and healthy dreams. Not to mention, glorious sunsets, inviting safari, delicious cuisine, colourful clothes, melodic dances, ancient rituals and hidden gems that we need to seek for.
What do you know about the Democratic Republic of Congo? Do not be afraid, I am not going to elaborate political things here since I don’t find them cheerful for my writing genre, would rather present you Congo you aren’t aware of. The Congo that is stuck in the battle with one of the worst diseases ever, Ebola, joined with COVID-19, the place where children are abused to work in cobalt mines for our electrical cars, the forgotten land and the forgotten people. I am pretty much sure you don’t know this Congo or you don’t want to know it. At this moment, when the racism is on the rise at the age of space exploration, we still need to talk how black lives matter and how we should respect all…. Congo is the proof that black lives are turned into source of profit for big white bosses and that really nobody cares that 13 million of people in Congo require humanitarian assistance. What is happening over there ? The Ebola Outbreaks that has started in 2018 and almost 19 months is killing the innocent, disabling health workers to stop it for all times. Like it is not enough for Congo to be injured with political tensions, social violence and poverty, the one of the worst viruses ever is ripping off the population. This dark epidemics is the second largest, after 2014-16 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa and this has taken more than 2,276 lives since August 2018. The epicentre is in Beni, where the humanitarian workers, voluntarily health assistants and epidemic inspectors are trying to track the disease, locate it, limit it and finally eliminate it. Shortly after Covid-19 knocked on the door of DRC, they thought they sent Ebola to the past. The last patient should have been discharged and the epidemics should have been officially ended. Nevertheless, the new Ebola patient has shown that you can’t make a peace with this virus. It is not ready to give up, at least not in Congo that is dealing with Ebola in last 2 years, with more or less success.
The epidemics experts who are risking their lives to help people of DR Congo in battling this dangerous filovirus have experienced a lot of struggles in implementing their methods in communities. First of all, this is one of the poorest nations that is targeted with politicial insecurity and economy disaster. How would you deal with people who are very friendly and opened with each others and at the same time very closed for the new solutions? To be able to limit Ebola outbreaks, those health workers had to redirect the local traditional behaviour, to influence the social interactions and to come out with new and experimental drugs, that may have potential to reduce the mortality of this disease.
When they think they surpassed Ebola fire in Congo, the new Coronavirus is coming and alerting to cause the real chaos:” Unlike Ebola, which kills about half of the people it infects, the new coronavirus causes mostly mild or moderate symptoms in about 80% of people. Spreading Ebola typically requires an exchange of bodily fluids, and people have often been infected when caring for loved ones or mourning in traditional funerals that involve close contact with the body. In contrast, the new coronavirus is far more contagious and mostly spread by people coughing or sneezing, including those with only mild flu-like symptoms.” In other words, this means you need to choose the less evil from two but you even can’t choose since the both are there and active, with no mercy. DR Congo is definitely not ready for any kind of outbreaks and especially not for Covid-19 that has targeted the developed countries too, that are now too busy to offer help when they are dealing with plague themselves. It is difficult to help people when militants groups, like Mai Mai and the Allied Democratic Forces, give a survival chance less as Ebola and Corona virus together, especially in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri. They do consider humanitarian health help as political attack on their interests and they burn the medical facilities, Ebola centres and attack the medical stuff. Based on the statistical reports, there were almost 420 attacks on health buildings, with the outcome of 11 deaths and 86 injuries since the first day of Ebola outbreak. It is not easy to fight the epidemics on the ground when your people can’t do their job, afraid for their own life, because of the country lunacy, lack of safety and complete anarchy.
The local people believed for a long time that Ebola virus is imported for being used against communities and to enable easier approach to the natural resources of this land. It took a lot of energy and active work on education of locals to see the reality of Ebola virus and to prevent people from doing things that help spread of disease. Those measures have been tactically studies and they shown the positive results according to one article from NY Times:“With transparent walls and integrated plastic sleeves and gloves, the air-conditioned chambers, allowed medical teams to tend to Ebola patients without having to put on cumbersome protective gear. The cubes also allowed patients and their family members to see each other without risk of infection. People were afraid of the treatment centers, where so many had died. But the cubes won trust for the health care workers, said Augustin Augier, chief executive of the Alliance for International Medical Action, the nonprofit aid group that developed the chambers. At least 500 patients were fully treated in the cubes, which could be set up in 90 minutes and reused up to 10 times.But the key factor in curbing the spread of Ebola was the introduction of powerful vaccines and lifesaving antiviral drugs.”
In November 2018, the W.H.O. approved the licensing of injectable Ebola vaccine Ervebo, with 97.5% rate of success and this enabled Congo, Burundi, Ghana and Zambia to start with national and regional distribution and efforts against Ebola outbreaks.
Nevertheless, the previsoly learnt techniques against Ebola outbreak, like social distancing and avoid of community gathering, may help DR Congo to deal with Covid-19. For poor health systems and infrastructures, Covid-19 could cause a more destruction as Ebola itself. It is more contagious and even if it is not so fatal as the Ebola, could block the medical architecture and the complete land, due to the lack of KNOW-HOW, necessary hospital equipment and international health support.
Out duty is to help if and when we can. Even something is better than nothing and compassion is a drug that can cure all diseases. Think of it and if you want to help Congo and its people, World Vision International has some great opportunities and each of them could make a whole new world for some innocent person out there.