Health workers in an epicentre of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola outbreak threatened to go on strike if authorities don’t do more to protect them.
Repeated attacks on treatment centres by armed militiamen and community members who think Ebola is a conspiracy hamper response to the second-deadliest outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever in history.
In the latest attack, on a hospital in Butembo, a senior World Health Organisation (WHO) epidemiologist from Cameroon was killed and two others wounded.
At a protest in Butembo, the largest city affected by the outbreak, dozens of Congolese doctors and nurses marched behind a banner reading “Ebola exists” and urged authorities to take additional security measures.
“If our security is not guaranteed, we will strike from the first week of May,” Dr Kalima Nzanzu said, reading from a memo to Butembo mayor, Sylvain Kanyamanda.
Kanyamanda told Reuters he understood the health workers’ frustrations and government was determined to respond to their demands.
The latest outbreak of Ebola, declared last August and Congo’s tenth since the virus was discovered in 1976, is believed to have killed 880 people and infected nearly 500 more in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.
The military prosecutor’s office in North Kivu said authorities apprehended the suspected ringleader of last week’s attack, as well as a dozen other suspects.
Prosecutors believe the assailants belong to an armed group called the Patriotic Union for the Liberation of Congo (UPLC) based on a tract left at the hospital threatening health workers.