By: Mustapha Alkali, Maiduguri
Over 1,000 people have died in an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo which rated as the second deadliest in history.
Minister of health Oly Ilunga said 1,008 lives have been claimed by the virus, which has raged since August.
The crisis is a long way off the 2014-2016 outbreaks in West Africa’s Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, which killed more than 11,000.
Despite the risk of spread across the highly porous borders with Uganda and Rwanda or further afield, in April the World Health Organisation (WHO) again opted not to declare a global health emergency.
Ebola treatment centres have come under repeated attack and many international aid agencies have pulled staff out hotspots, like the towns of Katwa and Butembo, leaving government health workers struggling to cope.
Last month a Cameroonian epidemiologist working with the WHO was killed during an assault on a hospital in Butembo.
Insecurity has become a “major impediment” to controlling the Ebola outbreak, Michael Ryan, whose health emergencies chief, told reporters in Geneva on Friday.
He said 119 attacks have been recorded since January, 42 of them directed at health facilities, while 85 health workers have been wounded or killed.
Dozens of rebel groups operate in the region and political rivalries in part drive’s community rejection of health personnel.
Many people fear going to Ebola treatment centres, choosing instead to stay at home and risk transmitting the disease from the virus to caretakers and neighbours.
Mr Ryan said authorities are looking at introducing another one. He called for more help from Congo and elsewhere to close an “urgent, critical gap” of some 54 million dollars in containment funding.