Ebola Outbreak in Africa Prompts International Health Emergency Declaration

Health workers bury a body of an Ebola virus disease victim

"What is clear is that Ebola is an emergency because the epidemic persists despite every possible effort to educate people", he told the Geneva meeting.

Goma is a major urban town and home to more than one million people. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. WHO chief said that travel and trade restrictions will push people in informal border crossing, only to worsen the situation. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has supported the decision of WHO.

"While it does not change the reality on the ground for victims or partners engaged in the response, we hope it will bring the global attention that this crisis deserves", the IFRC said in a statement.

A declaration of a global health emergency often brings greater worldwide attention and aid, along with concerns that nervous governments might overreact with border closures.

Health workers fronting the vaccination campaign have also faced hostility from at-risk communities where some equate Ebola with witchcraft - the sort of resistance that the Ugandan ministry said workers trying to trace people who may have come into contact with the woman fishmonger were having to deal with.

According to WHO's International Health Regulations, which constitute a binding legal agreement involving 196 countries across the globe, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) is defined as, "an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response".

The WHO's declaration will help bring more worldwide attention and aid to the region, which reported its first case earlier this week in Goma, a city of around two million people with an global airport.

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First Ebola death recorded in trading hub of Butembo, a city of nearly a million with links to Uganda.

The Congolese fishmonger vomited there several times on July 11, a few days before she died, and a second fish trader who spent time there died of Ebola in Congo on Tuesday, the World Health Organization said.

Since 2014, the world has grappled with the worst Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The current outbreak is spreading in a turbulent Congo border region where dozens of rebel groups are active and where Ebola had not been experienced before. The UN overall has also recognized the seriousness of the emergency by activating the "Humanitarian System-wide Scale-Up" to support the Ebola response.

It's only the fifth disease epidemic to have been given that status.

Wednesday's conference marked the fourth time since the DRC outbreak was declared on August 1, 2018, that the WHO's International Health Regulations Emergency Committee has met to consider designating the Ebola epidemic a "public health emergency of international concern".

Meanwhile, in Uganda, Health authorities in greater Masaka are also on a red alert over a suspected case of Ebola virus.

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