In late March, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the United States government has allocated up to $30 million in assistance to support the rapid response to the Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Guinea. The funding will also help strengthen Ebola preparedness in the high-risk border countries of Côte D'Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.
Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever and was first identified in 1976 in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo, along the Ebola river.
Between 1976 and 2012, according to the World Health Organization, 24 outbreaks of Ebola were identified in sub-Saharan Africa, resulting in nearly 2,400 cases with 1,590 deaths. Then came the largest known outbreak, which occurred in West Africa between December 2013 and January 2016: 28,646 people were sickened and 11,323 died. Smaller outbreaks followed in 2017 and 2018.A second major outbreak occurred in eastern DRC from 2018 to 2020.It was the second largest Ebola outbreak in world history, the worst in DRC history, and the first ever in an active conflict zone.
Ebola is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected animals or humans. Infection can occur from touching the bodies of those who have died from Ebola during burial practices that include touching or washing bodies. The World Health Organization, or WO, reports that early supportive care and community engagement are key to saving lives and controlling outbreaks. To prevent large outbreaks of Ebola, vigilant disease surveillance is needed to detect and respond rapidly and effectively to new cases in and around affected areas.
The up to $30 million dollars in assistance from the United States government will support contact tracing, as well as laboratory and diagnostics testing. It will go toward establishing Ebola treatment and transit centers, and toward strengthening infection prevention and control in major health facilities.
Infectious diseases like Ebola do not respect national boundaries and can spread rapidly, jeopardizing the health, security, and prosperity of every country. The United States Government is proud to contribute to the response efforts against this terrible disease and to global health security more broadly.