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Ebola Health Worker Killed by Villagers

Democratic Republic of Congo continues to struggle to contain outbreak
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2019 10:55 AM CDT
In this April, 16, 2019, file photo, an Ebola health worker is seen at a treatment center in Beni in the Democratic Republic of Congo.   (AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro, file)

(Newser) – Health workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to struggle to effectively combat the deadly virus that's currently raging in an "out of control" outbreak: On Saturday, villagers killed a health worker, AFP reports, citing the daily health ministry bulletin dated Sunday. "Part of the population of Vusahiro village, in the health sector of Mabalako (North Kivu province), rose up and attacked the local team fighting back against Ebola," the official report reads. In addition to the worker who died, "the health center in Vusahiro was trashed and looted and three village houses were burned down." Another triage center was vandalized overnight in a separate incident over the weekend. The outbreak is the second-deadliest in history, having killed more than 1,200 so far, according to a Doctors Without Borders report from last week.

Both militia attacks on health centers, as well as local hostility, have led to four health workers being killed in the DR since the outbreak began. Dozens more, both workers and patients, have been wounded. As PBS explained in a report earlier this month, there's a "deep distrust of government" in the region. "Clearly, this is an area of historic opposition to central government, and it's an area where the rumor mill about Ebola and how it's being spread is going in precisely the wrong direction," says David Miliband of the International Rescue Committee. International aid organizations are working to fight the spread of misinformation to villagers, but "10 months into the disease, the trust gap has got worse, not better," he says. "The level of violence has got worse, not better." (Because of that, experts say this outbreak could end up rivaling the worst-ever.)

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