In the coming days, David Gressly, the United Nations emergency Ebola response coordinator, will travel to New York City to address the 74th UN General Assembly and solicit resources to end the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which grew by 7 cases today.
Gressly announced his travel plans yesterday, during his first visit to Ituri province since he was named the response coordinator earlier this summer, according to the UN peacekeeping organization MONUSCO.
Speaking at an Ebola treatment center in Komanda, Gressly said the Mambasa territory has become a hotspot of the outbreak, and the region will need more staff in the coming weeks.
According to a MONUSCO news release on Gressly's visit, Mambasa is populated with armed groups in the Idohu forest, in southwestern Irumu Territory, and there is community resistance against response workers.
"Ebola is a reality, not a chimera," Gressly said, urging people to comply with response workers.
Faith leaders decry lack of involvement
The lack of community trust may represent a missed opportunity on the part of world actors to quickly engage faith leaders in DRC response efforts, according to a press release from the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD).
Faith leaders met in Goma earlier this month to discuss their role in outbreak prevention, and they established that, in the violent eastern regions of the DRC, faith leaders are trusted more than government officials and outsiders.
"We are jubilant at the marvels of medical science in finding a vaccine to cure this deadly disease, but a cure brings no hope if fearful people have no trust in the health teams administering the drug," said the Catholic Bishop of Goma, Willy Ngumbi, at the Goma meeting. "Without such work by the faith communities who have the trust of the local population, hundreds if not thousands more people will die of Ebola, and the disease could spread out of control."
Ngumbi said faith leaders were "left on the sidelines" when the outbreak began in August 2018. Unlike international actors, faith communities will remain in the region long after the outbreak is over, and play an integral role in helping Ebola survivors, he added.
Seven new cases, 3,157 total
According to the World Health Organization's (WHO's) online Ebola dahsboard, there were 7 new cases and 5 new fatalities confirmed today, which raise outbreak totals to 3,157 cases, including 2,111 deaths.
A total of 501 suspected cases are still under investigation.
Sep 20 MONUSCO press release
Sep 20 CAFOD press release
WHO Ebola dashboard