Workers in Americares Connecticut distribution center prepare a shipment of medical supplies for the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo by Jeff Kennel/Americares. (contributed photo)
Stamford, CT - Americares is delivering more than 20 tons of medical supplies for health workers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo battling the second largest Ebola outbreak on record.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, citing the geographical spread of the virus. Though quickly identified and isolated, the emergence of the virus earlier this week in Goma, a major city and transit hub, heightened concerns about the spread of the deadly disease.
The number of confirmed Ebola cases in the Congo is now over 2,500 and continues to climb. To date over 1,600 people have died and more than 130 health workers have been infected, according to the Ministry of Public Health. More than half of the deaths are outside of health facilities, which is of concern to health officials as patients nearing death have a higher concentration of the virus and are more contagious.
“As long as people are dying in communities –- and not in health facilities with staff trained in infection control procedures –- the virus will continue to spread,” said Americares Chief Medical Officer Dr. Julie Varughese, an infectious disease specialist. “Americares is stocking health facilities on the front lines of the crisis with essential supplies, including intravenous fluids increasingly used in the care and management of Ebola.”
Americares is delivering the supplies to longtime partner International Medical Corps, which operates an Ebola Treatment Center in North Kivu Province in addition to supporting local health care workers and health facilities in Ebola-affected areas.
The shipment is Americares second since the crisis began last summer. The health-focused relief and development organization previously delivered 4 tons of medicine, first aid supplies, hygiene products and protective equipment for health workers battling the virus. After the North Kivu Provincial Health authorities reported a cluster of likely Ebola cases last July, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak on August 1.
Americares has professional relief workers ready to respond to disasters at a moment’s notice and stocks emergency medicine and supplies in its warehouses in the U.S., Europe and India that can be delivered quickly in times of crisis. The organization responds to approximately 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings disaster preparedness programs to vulnerable communities. Since its founding 40 years ago, Americares has provided more than $17 billion in aid to 164 countries, including the United States.
Donations to Americares Worldwide Disaster Relief Fund will support its response to the crisis. To donate, go to americares.org/worldwide