UN starts vaccinating people against Ebola in Congo

LONDON (AP) – The World Health Organization said on Wednesday officials had started immunizing residents of eastern Congo against Ebola, after it was confirmed last week that the disease had killed an entire -small.

The United Nations health agency said in a statement that people at high risk of contracting the disease, including members of the young boy’s family and health workers, would receive the first doses of the vaccine manufactured by Merck.

WHO said about a thousand doses of the vaccine have arrived in Goma, the capital of Congo’s North Kivu province, and 200 doses have been sent to Beni, a town close to the region where the first case was identified last week.

The new Ebola outbreak that began on October 8 comes after a devastating outbreak that began in 2018, when the disease killed more than 2,200 people in the conflict-ridden region – and when more than 80 responders from the WHO have been victims of sexual abuse. during the agency’s efforts to stop the disease.

Among the 15 officials WHO sent to Congo this month was an expert in the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation, the agency said.

“The expert will educate WHO employees and partners on how to prevent inappropriate and abusive behavior,” WHO said.

a Associated Press investigation in May, WHO senior management learned of multiple cases of sexual abuse but did not act. Those charged included a doctor who offered women jobs on the vaccination team in exchange for sex.

The AP also discovered that WHO officials had signed a contract to reimburse an allegedly pregnant woman from a WHO doctor, details which were confirmed in a report. report published last month by a panel examining sexual abuse during the previous Ebola response.

The panel found that more than 80 WHO responders had sexually assaulted people in Congo and described the agency’s fundamental structural and cultural problems.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he had no knowledge of the allegations of sexual abuse until they were published in the press, although he had visited Congo 14 times during the outbreak and that he took personal responsibility for overseeing the response.

Many countries and donors have since pressured WHO to overhaul its emergency response system and punish staff members linked to abuse; no senior executive has since been dismissed, and an official who was informed of the abuse in writing was subsequently promoted.

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