Efforts to contain Ebola epidemic in Congo are faltering, aid leader warns

Battle against Ebola being lost amid militarized response MSF says

Battle against Ebola being lost amid militarized response MSF says

There have been some "30 different incidents and attacks against elements of the response" in eastern Congo, the medical group's president Joanne Liu told reporters in Geneva on Thursday.

MSF recently suspended its operations in the epicentre of the outbreak - in Katwa and Butembo in North Kivu province - following violent attacks on Ebola treatment centres.

The use of police and armed forces to compel people to comply with health measures against Ebola is leading to further alienation of the community and is counterproductive to controlling the epidemic.

"More than 40 percent of the deaths are right now happening in the community", outside of treatment centers, Liu said. It does not work, if the police and the army people wanted to force you to adhere to health regulations.

This is the second largest Ebola outbreak on record causing a massive worldwide response.

She insisted that responders needed to listen more to people's needs and concerns, and try to offer safe alternatives to those unwilling to be isolated away from their families for long periods of time in treatment centres.

The MSF global president stressed that people were facing the biggest Ebola outbreak in the history of the country as "907 people have fallen sick from Ebola, 569 of them have died".

"We have tools and innovations that previously we only dreamed of. and yet, despite all of this, the signs are that Ebola is not under control", Lieu said.

Medicines Sans Frontiers blamed deepening community district for the failure of medical workers to contain the outbreak of the deadly hemorrhagic disease that already killed 570 people these past seven months.

The battle against Ebola in Congo is failing because ordinary people do not trust health workers and an overly militarized response is alienating patients and families, says the head of Doctors Without Borders (also called Médecins Sans Frontières).

A spokesperson for Congo's health ministry said there appeared to be confusion about the security forces' role.

Liu described aspects of the DRC's forceful Ebola response that would seem terrifying to villagers: fleets of vehicles arriving to pick up a sick individual, people instructed to wash their hands but not given soap, dead bodies sprayed with chlorine and unceremoniously buried in plastic bags while their possessions are burned to keep Ebola from spreading. "Patients want to own their disease", Liu said.

She added there was a need for caution, however, with the "high mobility of the population" and the "spread of misinformation and rumours" about the medical response creating a risk of further infections.

It has claimed 561 lives out of 894 recorded cases, according the latest DRC health ministry figures. "The Ebola response needs to become patient and community centred".

"No single approach or single organisation will end this outbreak. every pillar of the response continues, from contact tracing to vaccination".