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The deadly Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been declared a global health emergency by the WHO on Wednesday, July 17. At least 650 people have died in the current outbreak, the fifth emergency declaration since its initial advent, according to the latest UN figures.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO made the announcement, declaring the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), following a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for Ebola virus disease in Congo.
The outbreak in Congo was declared based on the recent developments in the region, such as the first confirmed case in Goma, a city of almost two million people on the border with Rwanda. Health practitioners had feared the possibilities of an outbreak and Alexandra Phelan, a global health expert at Georgetown University Law Center, asserted that the emergency declaration was long overdue.
The current outbreak is spreading in the Congo border region where dozens of rebel groups are active, which increases the risk involved in containing the virus. The lack of awareness on Ebola in these regions has posed a great issue as the localities refuse to get the treatment. There have been reports of Ebola-infected people refusing to get proper treatment.
In the event of the deadly outbreak, criticisms against the apathetic attitude of WHO and their placid response to the West Africa outbreak is on the rising. But, WHO released documents to support their actions.
There was no immediate reaction to the emergency declaration by the WHO from Congo's health ministry. The health ministry tweeted, "Calling for a (global emergency) to raise funds while ignoring the negative consequences for (Congo) is reckless".