By Dr Mousumi Rahman, Senior Programme Advisor
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has recently experienced an outbreak of the Ebola Virus. First reported on 8th May 2018, there have so far been 38 confirmed cases and over 20 deaths.
The SCI continues to support a schistosomiasis treatment programme in DRC, and fortunately, the outbreak did not start until just after the last round of treatment was distributed in the country. This means that the programme has so far not been affected.
Currently, our in-country partners within the Ministry of Health and all provincial-level staff are aware of the situation and are being appropriately cautious with activities. They are continuing to monitor and evaluate the programme, and Ebola-affected areas are not included in evaluating activities, to ensure that staff remain protected.
Our programme partner in DRC, Dr Arthur Nondo, said:
“We feel fear because our colleagues went close to the affected area, but fortunately we had finished the MDA [mass drug administration] by then. We are hoping that the outbreak will be gone before the [remaining] 2018 activities, as a lot of people go to these areas to organise trainings and supervision.“
The photo above was taken in May in Tshopo province, in Yaobondo health zone, during the SCI’s coverage survey that took place in DRC immediately after a recent mass drug administration of praziquantel (PZQ) pills, which treat schistosomiasis. The school-based pill distribution was carried out while the Ebola outbreak was also ongoing in some areas of the country. In the photo, you can see an enumerator getting ready to interview a household regarding whether the family’s school-aged children received the PZQ. The team, quite worried that Ebola would spread quickly to this area, as the Congo river is not far, were checking information from the Ministry of Health on a daily basis to monitor the outbreak’s evolution.
The next round of treatment distribution is not due until October so we, together with our partners, are hopeful that further treatment distribution will not be halted before then. However, this will depend on how long the outbreak goes on for and how far it spreads.