NEW YORK / BUTEMBO, FEBRUARY 28, 2019-Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international medical humanitarian organization, has suspended its medical activities in the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the outbreak of the Ebola outbreak. Attack of an Ebola Treatment Center (ETC) in Butembo on February 27.
Unidentified assailants set fire to some of the facilities and vehicles in the complex. The flames were controlled and no staff member or patient was injured, but the teams were forced to immediately stop patient care. At the time of the attack, 57 patients had been admitted to the information processing center, which operated in parallel with the Ministry of Health, of which 15 had been confirmed as carriers of the Ebola virus. All patients still in the ETC were transferred to a transit center.
This incident comes just days after another Ebola treatment facility – also backed by MSF teams in neighboring Katwa district – was attacked on February 24, forcing its suspension as well. MSF evacuated staff from the area for security reasons, pending a thorough analysis of the risks associated with continuing on-site medical care.
"We are extremely saddened by these attacks on our medical facilities. They have not only endangered the lives of our staff, but also the most vulnerable people at the heart of our response: the patients, "said Hugues Robert, MSF Emergency Office Manager. "In the light of these two violent incidents, we have no choice but to suspend our activities until further notice. As medical responders, it is very painful to have to leave patients, their families and other members of the community at such a critical moment in the Ebola response. "
Both attacks were traumatic for patients, relatives and staff inside the centers. During the Katwa attack, the caretaker of a patient died, while he reportedly tried to escape.
Nearly seven months after the start of the current Ebola outbreak in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, 879 cases of Ebola were confirmed and 553 people died.
In North Kivu, in addition to the Butembo and Katwa treatment centers, MSF runs Ebola-related activities in the cities of Kayna and Lubéru. MSF also supported emergency preparedness in the city of Goma by strengthening the surveillance system and ensuring that there is sufficient capacity to isolate suspected cases. In Ituri province, MSF operates two isolation centers for Ebola in the cities of Bwanasura and Bunia.