Mob kills Ebola health worker during attack on clinic in eastern DR Congo

FILE PHOTO: A case of Lassa fever confirmed in Nigeria's northern state of Kaduna (Photo: Reuters File)

A mob in eastern DR Congo killed an Ebola health worker and looted a clinic, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday, underscoring a breakdown in public trust that is hampering efforts to contain the deadly virus.

The attack occurred on Saturday in the village of Vusahiro, in the Mabalako district. According to the health ministry, villagers “rose up and attacked the local Ebola response team, which was made up of village residents who were trained to carry out certain response activities”.

Attacks on treatment centers by armed groups and mistrust among residents who view the disease as a conspiracy have become major impediments to containing Democratic Republic of Congo’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says this was the sixth attack on health workers in the last eight days.

“These attacks demonstrate that the ongoing Ebola outbreak is more than a health crisis,” he said. “Ending it takes a coordinated and strengthened effort across the U.N. system…with strong leadership from the government.”

The U.N. says stopping targeted attacks on health workers requires untangling deep-rooted political problems in eastern Congo. Dialogue has led to a recent reduction in large-scale attacks on health workers, WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.

Still, an uphill battle remains. Between January and early May, there were 42 attacks on health facilities, with 85 workers either injured or killed, according to WHO figures from May 3.

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