The Democratic Republic of the Congo is suffering one of the worst Ebola epidemics in history, and it’s likely to spread beyond the country’s borders, according to the World Health Organization.
The DRC is already suffering from severe political instability and years of civil war, creating a “perfect storm” for the spread of the disease.
Reuters reported that 100 people have died of the disease in the regions of North Kivu and Ituri, out of 150 cases.
On Tuesday, the WHO hosted a news conference in Geneva. Peter Salama, the head of emergency response, stated that “several factors may be coming together over the next weeks and months to create a potential perfect storm.”
Unfortunately, the political situation in the DRC is not conducive to an efficient and well-coordinated response.
The country has been embroiled in a series of civil wars and armed conflicts, many resulting from ethnic conflict and widespread poverty. There is a vaccine for Ebola, which is being deployed in the country.
However, some people have resisted vaccination, distrusting the government and health organizations, and sometimes running into forests in order to avoid being treated. This has worsened the spread of the disease.
The WHO said that 101 people have died thus far, with 151 total cases being reported, slightly higher than the numbers provided by Reuters.
The disease may soon spread to the neighboring country of Uganda, and there are fears that if the WHO is unable to control the epidemic in the North Kivu and Ituri regions, it may be impossible to do so at all.
In the DRC itself, six regions are at risk for the spread of the disease. These regions are Bas Uele, Haut Uele, Ituri, Maniema, South Kivu and Tanganika. The WHO is taking precautions to ensure that people are vaccinated and treatments are available to combat the disease.
The Red Cross has also mobilized experts to help treat people in the affected regions, according to the WHO.
Ebola is an infectious disease spread through contact with bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva or semen. The disease has caused a number of epidemics in Africa in the past decade, including the epidemic of 2014, which killed over 10,000 people.