By, Kate, and, Health
JANUARY 14, 2019
LONDON, Jan 14 (Reuters) – Global health teams battling the world’s second largest Ebola epidemic in Democratic Republic of Congo fear an election dispute may deepen public mistrust and allow the epidemic to run out of control.
Fostering confidence in health authorities is essential when fighting a disease that can spread furiously through communities where local services are scant and patients are often scared to come forward to government or international response teams.
“When you have political instability, public health always suffers,” said Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease expert who recently visited east Congo with a World Health Organization leadership team.
Without public trust, he said, the Congo epidemic could kill many hundreds more people.
The Dec. 30 election was supposed to mark Congo’s first uncontested democratic transfer of power after 18 years of chaotic rule by President Joseph Kabila.
But accusations of fraud and calls for a recount are threatening more volatility and violence after opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi was declared winner.