The World's Health Organization is calling for an intensified response to a worsening Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including more information from United Nations peacekeeping troops, as rebel violence and other challenges 19659002] But the UN public-health agency on Wednesday stopped short of declaring a global public-health emergency, a designation that some global health experts said it would have helped it more
A WHO Committee of International Health Experts said: "Congo's borders, and because of international governments and aid organizations are responding. Congo, said Robert Steffen, committee chair and a professor at the University of Zurich. He said there was no added value, he said.
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The outbreak, which was detected at the beginning of August, is proving to be one of the most dangerous flare-ups of Ebola ever. Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University who has served WHO emergency committees. Responses need to include security in addition to public health measures, he said.
"WHO has neither the mandate nor the expertise to deal with security threats," he said. "The United Nations needs to train and deploy peacekeepers in support of a public-health mission."
The decision to declare a global public-health emergency is "a missed opportunity," he said.
Congo have struggled to reach patients in areas under attack, vaccinate those at risk, and implement safe burial protocols. And violence from armed groups has forced the U.S. Government to withdraw staff, including Ebola experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from outbreak zones in recent weeks. U.S. Staff are still helping out with other parts of Congo.
Of 216 people reported infected with Ebola, 139 have died, according to the WHO. Ebola, which causes fever, diarrhea, and internal bleeding, is transmitted through bodily fluids, including from corpses.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency recently briefed the U.N. Security Council and is expecting "more response" from Monusco, the U.N. peacekeeping mission for Congo. The WHO has more than 250 experts deployed in Congo, he said. Experts who have had to leave.
A flare-up in new infections last week-to-33 New confirmed cases from just six weeks ago-what concentrated in the town of Beni, whose population of 300,000 has been terrorized by the government and each other. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the town and surrounding areas since 2014, including in machete attacks and through beheadings.
A Sept. 22 attack in Beni by the Allied Democratic Forces, a militia with roots in Ugandan Islamism, left around 20
One confirmed Ebola patient fled into an area Beni controlled by local May may rebels. But on Wednesday, the Congolese government said: "These are local bandits who are living in the community and they are."
Ebola, "Information Minister Lambert Mende said.
In addition to the threat from local militias, health workers are sent to teach local communities how to protect themselves from the virus seeking treatment in case of fever, have found unusually high levels of resistance.
Aid workers said the large-scale violence has made many residents distrustful of outsiders. "So many civilians have been killed in Beni … because of different armed groups," said Heather Kerr, Save the Children's Congo director.
Still, more than 18,000 people have received the experimental Ebola vaccine, the WHO said, making it by far the largest immunization campaign ever against the virus. In addition, 75 people who were infected have received experimental therapies.
contributed to this article.
Betsy McKay at firstname.lastname@example.org and Nicholas Bariyo at email@example.com