By James Tasamba
KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – Health ministers from the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring countries have agreed to join forces to boost Ebola preparedness and response.
The ministers decided to establish an African Ebola Coordination Task Force (AfECT) which will be based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, working under the African Union Secretariat, according to a communiqué released following their meeting Monday in Goma, DRC.
Nine AU member states will lead the effort with support from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other partners to support the cooperation and collaboration against the Ebola outbreak, the ministers said.
The task force will have political oversight on outbreaks while WHO will maintain the technical capacity
The ministers also agreed to cooperate on cross border Ebola cases and laboratory surveillance, cross border tracing and monitoring of contacts.
"Diseases do not respect borders, and this Ebola outbreak in DR Congo has emphasized the significance of collaboration," said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.
As of October 13, 2019, a total of 3,228 cases were reported, of which 3,114 confirmed and 114 probable, of which 2,123 deaths (case fatality rate 66%), according to WHO.
In the 21 days from September 23 to October 13, the number of affected health areas has reduced, with 22 health areas and 10 health zones reporting new cases, predominated by Mandima, Mambasa and Kalunguta in DRC, WHO said.