DRC Ebola impact getting worse for children

Aug. 9, 2019

The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 500 children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since the outbreak began last August, and deaths in kids have accelerated over the past six months, Save the Children, a nongovernmental group that is working in DRC, said yesterday.

In other developments, the DRC health ministry confirmed seven new cases yesterday, and health officials in the DRC and neighboring Rwanda announced steps to curb unnecessary border travel.

Last December UNICEF sounded the alarm about the high number of children infected in the outbreak, noting that one of every third people confirmed infected in the DRC's outbreak was a child, unusual for Ebola epidemics. The agency noted that one in 10 children were under age five and that kids were more likely to die from the disease than adults.

Save the Children said in its statement yesterday that around 737 children have been infected with Ebola in the DRC's outbreak. And based on the latest numbers, the impact on kids has increased. In the first six months of the outbreak, which was declared on Aug 1, 2018, just under 100 deaths in children had been reported. However, in the 6 months that followed, over four times as many have died.

Heather Kerr, Save the Children's country director in the DRC, said, "This is another grim milestone in a crisis that is devastating children in its path, especially the youngest. Some 40 percent of children who have contracted the disease are under the age of five, and many of them have died."

She also said the outbreak has had a wider impact on children because of the high overall fatality rate from the virus, with thousands losing at least one of their parents or separated from their families.

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