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Africa Union unveils expanded action plan to tackle Ebola threat in DRC and beyond

Africa Union unveils expanded action plan to tackle Ebola threat in DRC and beyond

DRC—The African Union Commission, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), has reiterated its commitment to the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other African countries.

This comes after the epidemic was designated as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

The Africa CDC briefed the leadership of the AU Commission and the Peace and Security Council immediately following the WHO pronouncement on July 17 and drafted an enlarged action plan.

Many ministries and sections of the African Union, notably the Peace and Security Department, are involved in the extended response plan.

This response plan will not just cover the DRC but also countries that share borders with it and other countries in the region.

The Ebola virus disease is a dangerous viral disease that spreads from person to person.

Infection is spread through direct or indirect contact with infected people’s blood, body fluids, or secretions (stool, urine, saliva, sperm), but only when they exhibit symptoms. Ebola, on the other hand, cannot be transmitted through the air.

The disease has a high mortality rate, but in the present Ebola outbreak, the rate swings between 55% and 60%, indicating that community engagement is critical to successfully reducing outbreaks.

A strong outbreak control strategy relies on a combination of measures, including case care, infection prevention and control techniques, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe and respectful funerals, and societal mobilization.

Ebola vaccines have been produced and are being used to help stop the development of Ebola epidemics in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Early supportive care, including rehydration and symptomatic therapy, improves survival. In late 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration approved two monoclonal antibodies (Inmazeb and Ebanga) for the treatment of Zaire ebolavirus (Ebolavirus) infection in adults and children.

The Africa CDC has already sent teams of specialists to South Sudan and Uganda to assess their readiness and identify gaps and areas in need of assistance.

The Africa CDC will also send more experts to these and other nations in the region to help with readiness, surveillance, and response in the event of an outbreak.

Amira Elfadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs, visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo from July 23 to July 27, 2019, and met with key stakeholders to discuss gaps in the existing response and identify extra support that the African Union can provide.

Furthermore, the African Union is aiding in the deployment of more African Voluntary Health Corps (AVoHC) professionals to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and adjacent countries.

AVoHC is a group of epidemiologists, anthropologists, communicators, laboratory technicians, and logisticians from around Africa who are ready to deploy in the event of a disease epidemic or public health emergency.

The African Union will also aid in the procurement and distribution of additional equipment and resources for better surveillance, clinical diagnosis, and treatment.

Given the need for a coordinated and integrated response, Africa CDC will continue to work closely with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and partners, including United Nations institutions, as it has in the past.

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