Government and opposition leaders of Congo must strive to find a bipartisan solution to the Ebola outbreak as ongoing violence in the country gives “the virus an advantage,” the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.
Speaking at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the spread of the disease should not be politicized because Ebola is “the enemy of everybody.”
The world’s second biggest Ebola outbreak has killed more than 1,000 people in a part of eastern Congo plagued by militia violence. Ghebreyesus noted that the current Ebola outbreak is so far contained to two provinces of eastern Congo that are wracked by violence perpetrated by armed groups.
Distrust by local residents has further hampered the response, with health workers and centres repeatedly attacked.
Ghebreyesus warned that ongoing violence is disrupting the WHO operation, adding that the epidemic risks becoming more widespread, more expensive and more aggressive.
The outbreak has killed 1,074 people out of a total of 1,604 confirmed or probable cases, according to the health ministry.
The world’s worst epidemic of Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever, killed more than 11,300 people in West Africa from 2013 to 2016.
The World Health Assembly — where issues like anti-microbial resistance, universal health care and WHO reform are among the topics up for discussion — will end on May 28.