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World Vision's Claire Rogers calls for action because the deadly Ebola virus crosses borders



This week the Ebola infection has reached a critical point.

A five-year-old boy who became the first confirmed case of Ebola outside the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the current outbreak of the epidemic, died in Uganda on Tuesday evening.

With the warning of the World Health Organization there is a very high risk of disease spreading in the region, agencies, including World Vision, work tirelessly to stop the epidemic.

Currently, World Vision Director Claire Rogers wrote a moving open letter asking the Australian Government for help in the humanitarian challenges of stopping the Ebola virus.

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When a five-year-old boy died of ebola in Uganda this week, I knew that we were all afraid at the moment. Ebola jumped the border from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to East Africa.

This little boy – the so-called Ugandan index case – went with his mother and younger brother back to Uganda from the DRC, where over 2,000 cases were recorded. The boy's grandmother has died since then, and his younger brother is infected and at least four other cases are suspected.

Make no mistake: Ebola is a terrifying and terrifying disease.

The blight occurs when the victims become symptomatic with fever, severe weakness, sore throat and muscles. Ebola can be confused with typhoid or malaria until it changes into the terrifying symptoms of bullet vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding through the skin, nose or even eyes. Patients die from dehydration and multi-organ failure.

The proliferation in Uganda is a devastating blow to humanitarian workers who work around the clock to stop Ebola in rural areas in the unstable zone of northern Kivu in the DRC.

Nobody wants an epidemic, but that's what we're dealing with.

Most epidemics end quickly, but this is the worst case we have seen since the crisis in 2013-2016 in West Africa, which has taken over 11,000 lives and a few years to take control. Since most people die at home and not in health centers, it is clear that there is still widespread distrust of the community.

Respondents want to act quickly and adopt a command and control approach, but to overcome ebola, communities must fight or we have no hope.

In recent weeks, we've talked with village heads, women and faith leaders – Christians and Muslims – to educate them about preventing the spread of Ebola.

Messages conveyed by pastors, priests and imams are trusted by their assemblies. This approach changed the wave of the outbreak of West Africa three years ago.

World Vision trains healthcare professionals and provides thousands of sanitary sets. According to the World Health Organization, about 90 percent of those who are at risk agreed to vaccination. A simple way to wash your hands reduces exposure.

However, according to one of the four cases undetected by WHO, the threat of Ebola raging in East Africa is real. DR Congo can not face the same, but it is complicated.

Eastern DRC is a war zone in which 13 million people need humanitarian aid, measles killed 1500 people, and violence – including the use of child soldiers in more than 100 armed groups – is widespread. Border trade and movement are fluid. Thousands of refugees from the DRC come every month, especially when the fight breaks out.

This constant uncertainty is one of our greatest challenges. This is partly due to the fact that despite millions of dollars in responding and issuing serious warnings for almost a year, we have a terrifying spread of the Ebola virus.

Support workers were deliberately attacked in hot spots such as Butembo, and in over 100 violent incidents, including attacks on Ebola treatment centers.

85 employees have been killed or wounded since the beginning of the year.

Providing life-saving treatment and prevention without safe access is very difficult. Armed security forces escorting health professionals are contaminated by the association in the DRC. This is not surprising in the explosive part of the world struggling with the conflict between the government, rebels and armed groups supported on the international arena.

Erroneous information can spread quickly, and some leaders deny ebola, some use it as a political tool, and others even accuse aid workers of introducing a virus!

That is why it is so important for local people to fight.

In 2013-16, communities were desperate and furious when they could not bury their dead in accordance with local customs. The risk of transferring Ebola during burial was unusually high, so World Vision collaborated with local leaders to adjust the burial ceremony so that the dead could be safely buried, but most importantly, with dignity.

Our community-centered approach to ebola prevention has been so successful that research from the American John Hopkins University has shown that none of the 59,000 people we support in West Africa with long-term development work have died of this disease.

The rules that the international community has learned after the outbreak in West Africa now must be financed and increased in the DRC – and quickly.

Australia has an international responsibility to pay attention to the ongoing DRC crisis, both as a good global citizen and because it is in our interest: Ebola knows no borders. If the outbreak is not limited, cases can appear around the world, including here.

Governments, NGOs and interested citizens can make great strides together to help the people of the DRC, especially children.

I am calling on our Australian Government to provide humanitarian assistance to the DRC

reply.

– To make a donation to World Vision, visit the website.

– Claire Rogers is the general director of World Vision Australia. Continue the conversation @WVAnews


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