A mob in eastern Congo killed an Ebola health worker and looted a clinic, the Health Ministry said, underscoring a breakdown in public trust hampering efforts to contain the deadly virus.
Attacks on treatment centres by armed groups and mistrust among residents who view the disease as a conspiracy are major impediments to containing Democratic Republic of Congo’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak.
The haemorrhagic fever has so far killed 1,281 people, according to the latest ministry figures and shows no signs of slowing with dozens of new cases a week.
The ministry said on Saturday residents of Vusahiro village, in the Mabalako district, “rose up and attacked the local Ebola response team, made up of village residents trained to carry out certain response activities”.
A hygienist from the infection prevention and control team died of injuries after he was transferred to hospital, it said.
Responders, healthcare workers and community members are increasingly subjected to threats from armed groups in hotspots such as Katwa and Butembo, the World Health Organisation said, complicating efforts to contain Ebola.
UN officials say stopping targeted attacks on health workers requires untangling deep-rooted political problems in eastern Congo. Dialogue led to a recent reduction in large-scale attacks on health workers, WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan told reporters in Geneva.
Between January and early May, there were 42 attacks on health facilities, with 85 workers injured or killed, according to WHO figures.
Health workers were attacked six times in the last eight days, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the closing session of the annual World Health Assembly in Geneva.
“These attacks demonstrate the ongoing Ebola outbreak is more than a health crisis,” he said. “Ending it takes a co-ordinated and strengthened effort across the UN system with strong leadership from government.”