WHO facing funding shortages in fighting Congo Ebola outbreak

World Health Organization (WHO) officials raised concern on Thursday over the growing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo amid critical funding gaps.

There are now 56 cases in the country’s Equator Province, which surpasses the previous outbreak in the area of 54 cases in 2018.

“Some cases are located in remote areas surrounded by rainforests, demanding additional capacities and resources for the response,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, in a video posted to Twitter.

The response to Ebola is complex amid the coronavirus pandemic, Moeti pointed out, though adding COVID-19 should not distract from tackling other pressing health threats.

So far, WHO has spent $1.75 million on the ongoing Ebola response, according to a recent statement. However, this funding will only last a few more weeks, the organization added.

Additional funding is needed to make sure affected communities get key services such as vaccinations, testing, contract tracing and treatment, among others.

On April 15, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced it would give WHO an additional $150 million to fight COVID-19, bringing its total contribution so far to $250 million. In February, the foundation committed up to $100 million to help fight against the virus, $20 million of which went toward groups such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the WHO.

In six weeks since the outbreak began, more than 12,000 people have been vaccinated. Further, around 90 percent of vaccinators in the ongoing outbreak are from local communities, and 26 laboratory technicians are supporting diagnostics.

Additionally, more than 40,000 households are said to have been visited by community health workers and more than 273,000 people have been provided health and safety information.

Another outbreak in the Eastern Congo marked an official end on June 25 to the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, which killed 2,280 people over nearly two years, as armed rebels and community mistrust undermined the promise of new vaccines.

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Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia and the Associated Press contributed to this report.