On August 1, 2018, four cases of Ebola virus disease were confirmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC. Since then, health officials have reported at least 2,408 confirmed and probable cases of Ebola in the country’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces. Over 1,600 people have died. To date, this is the worst Ebola epidemic recorded in the DRC, and the second largest recorded outbreak of the disease globally.
The United States quickly responded to the new health emergency. In September 2018, just about one month after the new outbreak was confirmed in the DRC, the United States declared the outbreak an emergency and bolstered its support by deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team, or DART, to the DRC. Comprised of disaster and health experts from the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the DART team began to coordinate the U.S. Government response to the outbreak, while working closely with local officials, the international community, and relief agencies.
In June 2019, USAID Administrator Mark Green and U.S. Ambassador to the DRC Michael Hammer traveled to North Kivu province, where they met with healthcare workers at an Ebola Treatment Unit in Katwa, community and local leaders at the Emergency Operations Center in Butembo, and response groups working to stop the spread of the disease. Following Administrator Green’s visit, USAID announced publicly it has provided 98 million dollars thus far to help the Democratic Republic of the Congo and international partners fight the Ebola outbreak.
The funds are going toward lifesaving assistance such as infection prevention and control activities, training for health care workers, community engagement interventions, promotion of safe and dignified burials, and food assistance for people and communities affected by Ebola. This assistance is also helping to prepare communities in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, and other neighboring areas of the DRC at high risk for Ebola spread.
“The way that you defeat this deadly virus is to harness the strength, the connections, and the spirit of every part of the community. Every part of the community is affected, every part of the community must be in the response, and that is, to me, the most important thing,” said USAID Administrator Green. “With all of the challenges -- and there are many -- there is nothing that is insurmountable.”