The meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the Director-General of WHO under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo took place on December 12th April 2019, from 13:00 to 17:20 Geneva time (CET).
According to the Committee, the Ebola epidemic in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri in the Democratic Republic of the Congo does not constitute a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). However, the Committee expressed its deep concern at the recent increase in transmission in some areas and, as a result, the potential risk of spread to neighboring countries.
The Committee also wishes to commend the efforts of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Health Organization and its partners to contain the epidemic in a complex and difficult environment.
In addition, the committee provided the following public health advice:
- The committee recommends redoubling efforts to detect cases as early as possible, identify and track all contacts, ensure the highest rate of immunization coverage of all contacts and contacts.
- Sustained efforts need to be made to prevent nosocomial transmission and reduce the delay between onset of illness and access to high standards of care and treatment in Ebola treatment units.
- Particular emphasis should be placed on reducing the number of cases in the remaining epicenters, including Butembo, Katwa, Vuhovi and Mandima.
- The Committee recommends WHO and all partners to identify, target and intensify community dialogue and participation, the engagement of traditional healers and other tactics. community engagement to strengthen and broaden community acceptance.
- The Committee also noted the need to follow the SAGE recommendations regarding the immunization strategy presented at its last meeting.
- The safety of the workers must be a priority, while avoiding the security of the intervention.
- Because of the very high risk of regional spread, neighboring countries should continue to accelerate current preparedness and surveillance efforts, including the immunization of health and front-line workers in neighboring countries.
- Cross-border collaboration should continue to be strengthened, including timely sharing of data and alerts, cross-border community engagement and awareness raising. In addition, there is a need to work on better mapping of population movements and understanding of social networks linking national borders.
- The Committee maintains its previous view that it was particularly important that no restrictions on international travel or trade be applied. Exit filtering, including at airports, ports and land crossings, is of great importance. However, the filtering of entries, especially in remote airports, is not considered to have any value in terms of public health or cost-benefit ratio.
- The committee strongly emphasized the crucial need to strengthen current preparedness and response efforts. This will require significant additional financial support, immediate and sustained.
- The USPIE statement does not present any additional benefits at this stage, but current levels of transmission required special attention, which required special attention for the evolution of the situation. The committee advised the Director General of WHO to continue to monitor the situation closely and to reconvene the emergency committee, if necessary.
Minutes of the meeting
The members and councilors of the emergency committee met by teleconference. Representatives of the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo made presentations on the epidemiological situation, response strategies and recent adaptations, including a change in strategy to improve community participation in the response.
A representative of the Office of the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (MONUSCO) reported on MONUSCO's work, including its logistics and security activities to support the response.
The WHO Secretariat provided an update on the current situation and detailed information on the response to the Ebola outbreak and ongoing preparedness activities in neighboring countries.
The role of the committee was to communicate to the Director-General his views and points of view on:
- If the event is a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)
- If the event is a PHEIC, what temporary recommendations should be made.
On the basis of the above-mentioned opinion, reports prepared by the affected State Party and information currently available, the Director-General accepted the Committee's evaluation and on 12 April 2019 not declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a public health problem. Urgency of international concern. In the light of the advice of the Emergency Committee, WHO advises against the application of restrictions on movement or travel. The Director-General thanked the members of the Committee and the advisers for their advice.