By Pascal Mulegwa
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo (AA) – Congolese health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) have launched vaccinations against Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Beni, where the epidemic declared since early August has killed 34 people so far, local media reported on Thursday.
The vaccination against Ebola was launched Wednesday by the Congolese Health Minister Oly Ilunga in Mangina, epicenter of the outbreak, near the city of Beni, North Kivu province border with Rwanda and Uganda.
"All the preventive measures are already in place," Ilunga said as he was accompanied by several national and international experts.
The first targets of this vaccination are "primary care providers, people who have been in contact with confirmed cases and contacts of these contacts," he added.
"Today, just one week after the announcement of a new Ebola outbreak in DRC, the vaccination has started in Mangina to protect healthcare and frontline workers. Preparations continue to begin ring vaccination in affected communities," the WHO tweeted on Wednesday.
The tenth Ebola outbreak in the DRC was declared on Aug. 1 in North Kivu province, in the northeastern part of the country. So far, 74 cases and 34 deaths have already been reported by the health authorities, according to the Doctors Without Borders.
North Kivu is one of the most populated provinces of the DRC with more than 8 million inhabitants.
Several local and foreign-armed groups are still active in this mineral-rich region.
The WHO has asked the neighboring countries of the DRC — Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi — to strengthen surveillance along the border with the province of North Kivu.
The UN agency said the risk of spreading the epidemic was very high because of the presence of many internally displace persons (IDP) in the region and the movement of people to Uganda.