UNITED NATIONS, Aug 31: Since the Ebola epidemic outbreak in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a year ago, almost 600 of around 850 children who have caught the virus have died, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said Friday.
“The news that the total number of deaths has now passed 2,000, out of more than 3,000 cases, should act as a rallying cry for us all to step up our efforts to defeat this terrible disease and end this outbreak,” UNICEF said in a statement.
The agency noted recent breakthroughs in finding successful treatments, highlighting that “for the first time, we now have the means to both prevent and treat Ebola.”
Medical advances, however, “mean little” if infection goes undetected, or “if individuals are too scared to seek treatment,” it added.
The current Ebola epidemic, categorized by the World Health Organization as International Public Health Emergency in July, has affected more children than in any other previous outbreak, and the virus “ravages children in ways that are very different from adults,” UNICEF pointed out.
Therefore, treatments for young persons are specialized. UNICEF is working with partners to meet children’s immediate and long-term needs, accompanying them and their families every step of the way, the agency said.
These efforts include risk communication and engagement, infection prevention and control, psychosocial support, deployment of child nutritionists and building protective school environment, according to UN News.
Of the 126 million U.S. dollars to meet the needs of children and communities, UNICEF has so far funded 31 percent of its appeal. “The reality is that we need far more international support now.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to impacted areas in the DRC on Saturday in an expression of solidarity with victims and families fighting the epidemic, his press office has announced.