With the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo now in its tenth month and the number of new cases increasing in recent weeks, the United Nations announced Thursday measures to strengthen its response and end the outbreak.
The Ebola epidemic has claimed more than 1,200 lives and the risk of spread to other provinces in the eastern Congo as well as neighbouring countries remains very high.
A third of those who have fallen ill are children, which is a higher proportion than in previous outbreaks.
Under the leadership of the Government and Congolese communities, with support from the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the response has contained Ebola in parts of Ituri and North Kivu provinces.
But ongoing insecurity and community mistrust in the response continue to hamper access to communities.
The UN said this is hindering efforts by WHO and the Ministry of Health to detect sick people and ensure access to treatment and vaccination, ultimately leading to more intense Ebola transmission.
In view of the increasingly complex environment, the UN said it is in partnership with the Congolese government and all partners is now strengthening its political engagement and operational support to negotiate access to communities.
It is increasing support for humanitarian coordination; and bolstering preparedness and readiness planning for Goma and surrounding countries.
WHO is adapting public health strategies to identify and treat people as quickly as possible; expanding vaccination to reach and protect more people; and redoubling work to end transmission in health facilities.
The UN Secretary-General has established a strengthened coordination and support mechanism in the epicenter of the outbreak, Butembo.