AU authorises deployment of mission against Ebola in DR Congo

FILE PHOTO: Health workers dressed in protective suits carry a Congolese woman confirmed to have Ebola as she is admitted to the Ebola treatment centre in Butembo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Picture taken March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The African Union on Thursday authorised the immediate deployment of an AU Mission against Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MAEC) following a series of attacks against public health centres and health workers in the eastern part of the country.

The mission consists of medical doctors, lab experts, epidemiologists, nurses and other medical and paramedical personnel.

Security personnel, in coordination with the DR Congo authorities and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), will also be deployed to ensure the protection of the Mission and treatment centres.

“…the Peace and Security Council urges all armed groups in Eastern DRC to observe an immediate ceasefire to allow public health workers to fulfill their mandate, consisting in saving lives of innocent civilians,” a statement from the AU read in part.

Attacks against health workers and facilities forced the suspension of activities for a week in April and saw health workers threaten to go on strike following the killing of a Cameroonian epidemiologist, Dr. Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung.

The AU also appealed to member states not to close their borders or place any restriction on travel and cross-border trade.

The World Health Organisation made a similar appeal last week after it declared that the current Ebola outbreak constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The WHO said such actions could hamper the response efforts.

The AU Commission has also been tasked to discuss ways and means to ensure predictable and sustainable funding for health emergency situations in Africa.

The current Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 1,700 people, is the second-worst in history after one that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2014 and 2016.