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PATH statement on the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

May 17, 2017 by Steve Davis

Contact:
Kate Davidson | (206) 302-4637 | media@path.org

Late last week, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Ministry of Health (MOH) announced an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the remote northern region of the country.

While the extent of the outbreak is not yet clear, several fatalities have been reported. PATH is working in close collaboration with the DRC MOH, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other partners to mobilize a rapid response to the outbreak.

PATH's role in the response builds on our efforts since late 2016 to support the DRC government to strengthen the country's disease surveillance, and laboratory and health information systems. This work, funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), leverages PATH's experience in health system strengthening and deep country connections to build the DRC's capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to disease outbreaks.

As part of this effort, PATH is helping to establish the DRC's first emergency operations center scheduled to open later this year. It will serve to coordinate prevention, detection, and rapid response teams for public health emergencies such as the Ebola outbreak.

A statement from PATH President and CEO Steve Davis follows:

"In a fast-moving public health emergency like this, a rapid response is critical to contain and control the outbreak. Our thoughts are with the individuals, families, and communities directly affected by this outbreak and with the many dedicated health workers who have responded to it so quickly.

Together with key partners like WHO, CDC, Médecins Sans Frontières, and the University of California, Los Angeles-DRC Research program, PATH was one of the first organizations on the ground to respond to this outbreak with technologies, data, and support for the DRC government, which is leading the response.

Working closely with the Ministry, PATH has quickly mobilized support for disease surveillance and outbreak response efforts, created data-sharing procedures, and provided immediate funding so the Ministry could deploy a team of investigators to the affected area.

Within 24 hours of learning about the outbreak, PATH also mobilized a cross-sector group of international partners to support the government with high-resolution satellite imagery, geospatial mapping capabilities, GPS-enabled smart phones, and other tools to help map and investigate the outbreak.

Improving epidemic preparedness and prevention are urgent priorities in our increasingly interconnected world. Heading off outbreaks before they become epidemics or pandemics depends on our ability to connect innovation end to end—from research and development of new vaccines, diagnostics, and other tools to the logistic capabilities critical to delivering innovative health solutions where they are needed.

America's leadership in international health security is vital to preventing and containing future threats. Continued US investment in epidemic preparedness protects the health and safety of Americans as well as citizens of other nations.

PATH remains committed to doing all we can to support the DRC, and we urge other governments, international organizations, and the private sector to join with the DRC government on a coordinated response to stop this outbreak as quickly as possible."

Learn more about the response of PATH and our partners in this blog post, which will be updated as the situation evolves.

About PATH's work in the DRC

PATH has worked in the DRC since 2009 in collaboration with the government, the private sector, community-based organizations, and other partners. Together, we are helping the country address some of its toughest health challenges, including HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases, such as human African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, as well as reproductive, maternal, and child health. Learn more at www.path.org/our-work/drcongo.php.

Posted May 17, 2017.