Between February and May 2021, the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) reemerged again in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) North Kivu Province, where IMA World Health has been working since the last outbreak from 2018-2020, and in Guinea. Informed by our experience battling Ebola in West and Central Africa, we resumed our emergency EVD operations in the DRC with funding from USAID.
COVID-19 was an added layer of complexity that could not be forgotten in the rush to contain this latest outbreak. That is why IMA fast-tracked essential PPE to the hands of health care workers in our partner health facilities in North Kivu (DRC).
EBOLA: STRENGTHENING COMMUNITY PREVENTION, RESPONSE AND RECOVERY IN NORTHEASTERN DRC USAID/OFDA | 2018-2020
Working in the epicenter of the outbreak, which took place in an active conflict zone, IMA partnered with Tearfund, and national partners, Heal Africa, and the Program for Promotion of Primary Health Care, known as PPSSP, to reach over 764,000 people in ten of the most-affected health zones in North Kivu and Ituri provinces. In coordination with local communities, organizations, and the DRC’s Ministry of Health, IMA and partners prepared and equipped 85 hospitals & health clinics by WHO-standards for IPC/WASH as well as screening, identification, and isolation of suspected Ebola patients. With assistance from IMA these facilities were able to provide safe consultations and services to 448,576 patients as well as identified and monitored 7,810 contact persons (at risk or exposed) for Ebola through their outreach personnel. Through the project, 78 Ebola triage and isolation units were established, and 164 water supply and hygiene systems at health clinics were installed. The project also trained 1,212 community health workers in community-based surveillance and contract tracing, who in turn, visited 319,106 households. Another 2,476 outreach staff were trained in community-based surveillance as well. Over a thousand religious leaders and teachers – trusted in the communities – were also trained in Ebola messaging, and they were able to reach 444,634 community members with key messages and reduce stigma.
In May 2018, the DRC Ministry of Health requested that staff from our Access to Primary Health Care Project, which was funded by UK Department for International Development, support Ebola data-visualization work as part of the response to an Ebola outbreak in western DRC. IMA supported the setup of the electronic database—as part of the national Health Information System established in 2014 through ASSP—to capture patient and contact data and to use the dashboard data to inform policy decisions and action plans for the response.
During the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, projection models identified the DRC to be at risk for the importation of cases from the outbreak zone. Already working to strengthen health systems in the DRC, IMA World Health took swift preemptive measures by providing 200 Personal Protective Equipment kits to protect health workers and contain a potential new outbreak before it started. IMA also worked with the DRC Ministry of Health Department of Epidemic Surveillance to train hospital staff in Ebola preparedness and response. Funding was provided by individual donors and IMA member agencies including the American Baptist Churches, the United Church of Christ, and Week of Compassion.
2014 LIBERIA OUTBREAK RESPONSE
IMA World Health supported the Christian Health Association of Liberia to help stop the spread of the Ebola virus following the March 2014 outbreak. CHAL worked in close collaboration with the Liberia Ministry of Health to train health care professionals, community health volunteers, and religious and traditional leaders on the key facts about Ebola. CHAL procured PPE for health workers and provided training on its proper use. IMA’s material and technical assistance support was made possible thanks to individual donations as well as grants from IMA member agencies including Lutheran World Relief, American Baptist Churches USA, Week of Compassion, and Church of the Brethren. Additional donors include Disaster Aid USA, Inc. and the Rotary Clubs of Baltimore, Bonds Meadow, Chevy Chase-Bethesda, Mt. Airy, Owings Mills, Pikesville, and Sykesville in Maryland, and the Rotary Club of Harrisonburg, Virginia.