DATE: November 14, 2019
SUBMITTED TO: The World Health Organization
Romania is deeply concerned by the alarming spread of the Ebola virus throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, with a high potential for spread to neighboring states in the Great Lakes region of Africa. The region struggles with direct human-wildlife interaction including bushmeat consumption, which is thought to be the source of outbreaks. Unsanitary conditions brought on and worsened by increasing population density on the region has allowed the virus to continue to spread. The situation has been worsened by the instability of the DRC government which has had several turnovers in leadership during the crisis. This has led to gaps in the oversight of crisis management on the part of the DRC. Also worsening the crisis, ongoing violence in the region in addition to directed attacks against medical relief teams has limited access to treatment for victims. Also contributing to ineffective treatment is mistrust of the government and outside medical treatment as well as prevailing rumours about the nonexistence of Ebola.
In the most recent Ebola epidemic beginning in 2014, the United Nations established the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) and the Special Envoy on Ebola, with the goal of scaling up response to the spread of this disease and unifying governments of the affected region pursuant to a more cohesive means of containing the spread of Ebola. The mission succeeded in this regard, largely as a result of the high degree of coordination and cooperation between national governments and the World Health Organization. The mission closed at the end of July 2015. A similar coordination effort may prove valuable in the current epidemic, as the response of various governments to the outbreak has varied substantially. Currently, the United Nations is taking steps to remedy the crisis, most prominent of these being the declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and subsequent release of WHO guidelines for crisis management following the meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee for Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 17 July 2019. These guidelines indicate the need for increased community awareness, cross-border screenings, and population mapping in affected states and bordering states. This initiative has also benefited somewhat from the use of experimental vaccines in a concerted “ring vaccination” protocol. This provides a strong base for a possible solution to this crisis.
Romania expresses its deepest concern for the future of the crisis, particularly the potential spread of the disease. Having experienced an Ebola scare during the 2014 outbreak, Romania is eager to contain the spread of Ebola as quickly and effectively as possible. Romania has already expressed this desire by means of its support for the foundation of UNMEER in 2014. Additionally, Romania recognizes the importance of education as evidenced by the Education Law of 1948, and hopes to pursue awareness campaigns in regions affected by the outbreak.
An effective resolution will address specific steps to be taken to (a) unify the policies of states in the Great Lakes region with regards to border security, led by the government of the DRC and aided by WHO, (b) minimize further violence against aid workers in the region and reduce mistrust of outside aid workers, (c) promote awareness of the symptoms, effects, prevention, and treatment of Ebola to counteract misinformation widely spread throughout affected areas, (d) effectively distribute vaccinations and other medical supplies to victims.
- Jack Rickle