Overview - Ebola Emergency Response

Since the WHO’s declaration of the epidemic on 1 August 2018, the United Nations and International Non-Governmental Organizations have been stepping up their efforts in support of the public health response led by the Ministry of Public Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in order to bring the 10th Ebola epidemic to an end. 

To that end, the United Nation has put in place a tight, disciplined and coordinated system for a rapid response and adjustments to shift from chasing the virus disease to anticipating where it moves to next so as to break the chain of transmission. This new approach also enhances coherence among all partners under the leadership of UNEERC, which includes UN system programmes, funds and agencies, as well as International Non-Governmental Organisations.

The Ebola Emergency Response Coordinator (EERC) is responsible for enhancing the effectiveness of the United Nations response. 

The role of the EERC is to: 

•    Establish a clearly defined system of coordination of international support

•    Ensure increased coherence within the UN system and partner organisations

•    Facilitate an enabling and conducive environment – particularly political and security – for the Government-led public health response, including through assistance to affected communities

Whilst there has been progress in limiting the geographical spread of the epidemic, the response still struggles to break the chain of transmission in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces. 

Unlike other outbreaks in the DRC where Ebola had been contained relatively quickly, the environment where it has unfolded in the east of the country is quite different. This region is extremely fragile, marked by active conflict and the presence of both foreign and domestic armed groups. It is also an area of historical political opposition, characterised by distrust of authorities and outsiders and a perception of historical neglect and persecution. This context makes key activities such as surveillance, contract tracing and infection prevention and control more challenging. 

A strong focus has been placed on improving access to and acceptance in communities that have been hostile to the response, especially in the areas along the Beni-Butembo axis and Ituri. Focus will continue on working effectively in communities where the virus continues to circulate.