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Champions of the DR Congo Ebola Response - Part 2

Celebrating doctors Lwamba and Djamba

DR Congo has experienced recurrent Ebola Virus Disease outbreaks, and this has left the health system struggling to contain these epidemics. However, thousands of people ranging from the patients themselves to healthcare workers have worked tirelessly to contain these outbreaks. Last week we launched a series dubbed “Champions of the DR Congo Ebola Response” where we are appreciating some of the health workers we have worked with and played key epidemiological roles in successfully fighting the 10th outbreak which ended in June. This week we celebrated yet another two individuals who were part of a large team.

Lwamba Mwehu Dimitri

Dimitri got his training in epidemiology when he attended the Kinshasa School of Public Health from 2016 to 2018.

As part of his activities during the 10th Ebola outbreak, he was among others coordinator of response activities in the assigned health areas in the Butembo (As Makasi and Kkatsya) and Goma health zones (Kyeshero, Heal Africa, Cclk and Buhimba); Epidemiological surveillance involved in active search for cases of EVD and other diseases under surveillance through vaccination, investigation of cases, supervision of community-based surveillance agents.

He was also involved in the training of providers in epidemiological surveillance, as well as supporting the Butembo and Goma health zones in management and data analysis for action.

Looking back, Dimitri attributes the successful eventual containment of the outbreak in North Kivu on “the basic training combined with notions of epidemiology, teamwork of all responders involved, and community involvement.”

However, the response also faced challenges such as weak ownership of response activities by providers and community members in many areas and insecurity on the ground following community reluctance towards response activities.

To come around these challenges, “we embarked on sensitization of providers and members of the community through community leaders (neighborhood leaders, etc.) and observed the directives received during the BSAFE training and the orientations of the safety sub-committee.”

And for his mental well-being while away on from family, Dimitri maintained constant communication with his wife and children through telephone and video calls.

Djamba Okitokonda Fidele

Fidele also got his field epidemiology grounding at the Kinshasa School of Public Health which he attended from 2018 to 2020. Fidele who was largely involved in epidemiological surveillance shares with us what he did during the 10th Ebola outbreak in North Kivu:

“I equally owe our success to the training before our descent to the field which allowed us to successfully carry out the activities in the field amidst the different challenges.

And talking of challenges, there were several including the non-collaboration of health facility managers with the response team, low use of case definition by health facilities, the non-updating of consultation register for fear of transferring their client, insecurity making certain health facilities inaccessible and poor performance of PCI activities in health facilities.

However, we did not go to the field to fail.  We sensitized the heads of health structures to promote collaboration with the response team. We briefed providers on the correct use of EVD case definitions. Providers were briefed on the importance of updating referral registers to enable the active case finding team to do their jobs well. We associated with the local chief and his team to guarantee the safety of the agents on the ground, and we briefed providers on the importance of PCI activities in their structures.”