An international audience group health Experts on Monday urged the World Health Organization to convene an emergency committee to examine the possibility of declaring the Ebola outbreak in Congo as a health emergency. international public.
The group of experts wrote in the Lancet that such a call would help mobilize "high-level political, financial and technical support to tackle the Ebola outbreak that began in last May ".
The epidemic, declared a little over six months ago in eastern Congo, is the tenth and second largest in the world. Instability, population density, political instability and mass displacement have contributed to the spread of the disease.
"The epidemic is not under control and is highly likely to spread to the region, perhaps to the world," said lead author Lawrence Gostin, director of the faculty at the University of Toronto. Institute of Law Neill of Global and Global Health Georgetown University.
Experts have raised concerns about the spread of the Ebola virus in neighboring countries such as South Sudan, one of the most fragile states in the world and much less able to control an Ebola outbreak. .
"Taking bold steps to prevent the spread of the disease in this country where violence prevails and where famine is predicted is critical to preventing a humanitarian disaster," said Gostin.
The experts say that the criteria for declaring an international emergency have been fulfilled, particularly with regard to the impact on public health, novelty, the scale and the movement of people.
The World Health Organization responded on Monday that WHO and its partners in the Congo and neighboring countries are keeping a close eye on the situation, looking for signs of a need to convene a committee. experts.
"If and when we see these signs, the CEO will convene a meeting," said WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic.
The first meeting of the emergency committee, called to call a public emergency, was held on October 17th.
The call for attention comes as six months later, the Ebola virus has spread to 18 health zones in Congo, and although many hot spots have been contained, new hot spots have been detected in recent weeks.
Despite their call on Monday, the group of experts also warned that a national public health emergency declaration could also have negative consequences, such as a ban on trade or obstacles to travel to Congo. Thus, he also called on the WHO and the United Nations to "take active measures to prevent illegal and damaging restrictions, including calling on countries that violate laws designed to prevent this type of wrongful action. ", according to Gostin.
In October, the Emergency Committee felt it was particularly important that there be no restrictions on international travel or international trade, and that neighboring countries speed up their preparation and monitoring. .