WHO Ebola Responder Killed By Attackers In Congo Hospital

Grant Boone
April 22, 2019

Several gunmen from a local militia attacked the hospital in the city of Butembo, one of the epicenters of the Ebola outbreak, killing Richard Mouzoko, an epidemiologist from Cameroon.

In a statement today, the World Health Organization said two other people were injured in the attack, but are believed to be in stable condition.

The response to the outbreak has been hampered by a series of deadly attacks on Ebola health centres in Butembo and elsewhere, which disrupt care and vaccination efforts and lead to a rise in new cases.

Congo's health ministry confirmed the assault on the Catholic University of Graben hospital. Such attacks by active rebel groups in the area are part of the reason why it has been hard for authorities to contain the outbreak.

How to take community concerns into account while effectively containing Ebola remains the subject of debate, while worries are high that the outbreak could spread from the densely populated region to the major crossroads city of Goma or into nearby Uganda or Rwanda.

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World Health Organization data from April 9 put the number of confirmed or probable cases at 1,186, of which 751 had been fatal. The hemorrhagic fever is most often spread by close contact with the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms or with objects such as sheets that have been contaminated. We are outraged by this attack: "health workers and health facilities must never be targets".

"This is a tragic reminder of the risks health workers take every day to protect the lives and health of others".

Also weighing in on the attack, DRC health minister Oly Ilunga, MD, said on Twitter that national and worldwide health officers show courage and exceptional self-sacrifice to protect the DRC against Ebola, "sometimes at the cost of their lives".

This month could see the highest rate of Ebola transmission yet, Kitchen said, adding "the trajectory of this outbreak is alarming". "At the same time, we remain committed to continue supporting the Ministry of Health of DRC to end this outbreak as quickly as possible".

To stem the outbreak, around 100,000 people have already received an experimental Ebola vaccine in the region.

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