Ebola in the DRC: a crisis of confidence

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One year after the beginning of the Ebola epidemic, halting the spread of the disease is a continued struggle. The journalist will meet those who act on the ground, to explore the lessons learned and consider them for future processes.

  • €6,300 Budget in Euros
  • 2020 Final release date
  • 2 Round winner
  • 1 Location

A year after the start of the Ebola crisis in North Kivu, the WHO declared that the epidemic, a hemorrhagic fever which claimed nearly 1,700 lives, a global health emergency. While the means to contain the disease, including a vaccine, are much more advanced than during the epidemic in West Africa in 2014-2016, the medical and humanitarian community is struggling to contain the epidemic that has spread in Goma, the capital of the province, a city of more than one million inhabitants, which borders Rwanda. Violence, and in particular armed groups, have often been singled out to explain this difficulty in stemming the spread. In addition, there is a deep mistrust of the population in the face of humanitarian organizations accused of profiting from the crisis, or even of creating it all parts.

While the inhabitants of the region have always suffered from a lack of health infrastructure, the money and resources mobilized around Ebola are running out. Manipulated by former President Joseph Kabila as excuse to cancel the elections in January in a region which is fiercely opposed to him, the crisis has taken a political turn, and the tacit support of the international community to governmental institutions such as the army through the UN peacekeeping mission has finished convincing the population: Ebola is nothing more than conspiracy, or at the very least an opportunistic invention of humanitarian workers in search of funding. The treatment of patients, locked up in aseptic centers and treated by a foreign medical teams, does not help.

Faced with this complex situation, what solutions can be put in place by the medical and humanitarian community? The urgent need to better respond to the crisis signaled by the WHO's decision in July should motivate actors to change their attitude towards local communities. Despite this, few organizations take concrete action. MSF France is one of the few to re-examine their methods and give more confidence to local communities; for instance by decentralizing transit centers (which people were reluctant to go to) at the level of local health services close to local populations, where patients can be seen by their family physicians in which they trust.

This project illustrates the crisis of confidence that the humanitarian sector on the African continent, in particular in the DRC, suffers from.

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