A World Health Organization doctor was killed as a result of an attack at a Congo hospital, amid the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Butembo. Apart from the virus itself, unrest in the area continues to hamper the efforts to fight the outbreak.
Militia Attack In Congo
In a statement, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that epidemiologist Dr. Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, who was deployed by the organization in response to the Ebola outbreak, was killed by attackers in Butembo University Hospital. Two others, a health ministry staffer and a driver, were injured but are believed to be in a stable condition.
“This is a tragic reminder of the risks health workers take every day to protect the lives and health of others. We are outraged by this attack: health workers and health facilities must never be targets,” said Dr. Ghebreyesus. True enough, the attack was just the latest of a string of attacks on the health workers trying to contain the outbreak.
Today we lost one of our very own: Dr Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, an epidemiologist deployed in the #Ebola response in #DRC, during a hospital attack in Butembo.
We grieve together with his family during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/dJ52VL64Yn — Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) April 19, 2019
Struggle To Contain The Ebola Outbreak
Evidently, the attack happened during a coordination meeting that was taking place at the hospital, and according to witnesses, the attackers wanted the foreigners to leave Butembo because they believe that Ebola does not exist in Butembo and that it was the foreigners who brought Ebola to the community.
According to Butembo Deputy Mayor Patrick Kambale Tsiko, the militiamen said that they will continue with the attacks unless the foreigners leave soon. Such attacks by active rebel groups in the area are part of the reason why it has been difficult for authorities to contain the outbreak. Further, there has also been some community resistance in the region.
The attack that killed Dr. Kiboung, who was from Cameroon, came just three days after President Felix Tshisekedi visited the outbreak zone and promised to provide more military and police protection to the health workers.
President Tshisekedi is hoping that the outbreak will be contained within three months, but experts believe it might take longer.