AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has praised leaders at the World Bank for quickly committing $300 million in aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for its efforts to contain and eliminate an outbreak of Ebola in that country that has claimed nearly 1,700 lives.
As of July 12, there have been 2,477 Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that have resulted in 1,655 deaths. In addition, the virus spread to neighboring Uganda, where as of June 24, there have been a total of three confirmed cases of Ebola. All three individuals had recently traveled to the DRC, and all succumbed to the disease.
The World Bank’s commitment of aid comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) finally declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in the DRC on July 17—a long overdue acknowledgement that the current Ebola outbreak remains uncontained and still poses a significant threat to global health security.
A PHEIC declaration carries legal obligations requiring affected states to cooperate with the WHO in coordinating an outbreak response plan and also puts the global public health community on notice signifying a substantial health security risk to the world.
“We thank the World Bank for stepping up so quickly with this much needed aid to help contain and eliminate the current Ebola outbreak in the Congo,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “We have been highly critical of the World Health Organization and its leader, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, for their unconscionable delay in formally recognizing this outbreak as a public health emergency in DRC, but also as the significant global health threat it poses to the world. An emergency declaration is only effective if it’s followed by swift action and we applaud the World Bank for its both its compassion and alacrity delivering this aid. And in order to mount a truly robust response, all available vaccines must be fast-tracked for approval so that a large-scale inoculation campaign can also begin immediately.”
According to a news report by the BBC, the WHO is currently facing a shortfall of $54 million needed to address the outbreak.
AHF operates healthcare programs in two countries currently being affected or being threatened by the outbreak—Uganda and Rwanda. Despite lessons learned from the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, basic medical equipment and supplies are still in short supply. AHF recently donated thirty-thousand dollars’ worth of medical supplies to Uganda to help protect medical staff in Western Uganda near the DRC border.