Militia Groups Render the Fight Against Ebola More Difficult

Militia Groups Render the Fight Against Ebola More Difficult


The Ebola situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is reported to be deteriorating. With 329 people infected, and 198 dead, this is the worst outbreak of hemorrhagic fever in the history of the country. And to make matters worse, the militia groups clashing in the Kivu province to gain control over it, make it very difficult for health workers to check the spread of the disease. Two factors make the outbreak difficult to handle. One is that the death rate among Ebola patients is very high, about fifty percent. Secondly, the disease spreads through the body fluids of the infected people. Thus, it becomes essential to track the movements of those infected with the virus, and identify the people they come into contact with, and to keep the infected in isolation.

And this is precisely what is derailed by the militia groups. In the Kivu and Ituri provinces, attacks by the groups and civilian resistance have made the situation very complex. Two health workers were killed in an attack. In another incident, 11 civilians and one soldier were killed by the militia. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the DRC’s minister of public health says that violence against health professionals and civilians make it virtually impossible to contain the outbreak of the disease. They make it difficult for health workers to trace infected people and identify those who may have contracted the virus. Tracing the infected and isolating them is extremely important, as they may spread the virus among those who are in close contact.

Kalenga said that no other epidemic in the world is as complex as the one they are experiencing in DRC. Even without the interference of the militia, the situation is alarming; it is feared that the chances of containing the epidemic are becoming thinner, day by day. Robert Redfield, who heads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested a few days ago that there is a chance of the epidemic getting out of control, and if that happens, it may stay on permanently, infecting people in an unbroken chain. That prospect is more than alarming.

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