Ebola outbreak puts DR Congo on an ‘epidemiological knife-edge’
Action taken over the next few weeks will determine whether the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will spread or be contained, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
Speaking in Geneva at the World Health Assembly, Dr. Peter Salama, WHO’s Deputy Director-General in charge of emergency preparedness and response, said there were several reasons why the current outbreak has yet to be contained despite quick responses from the Government and partners.
He said the outbreak, which has claimed 27 lives since it was declared on 8 May, puts DRC on an “epidemiological knife-edge”.
He explained that, unlike previous Ebola outbreaks there, the latest one has been complicated by the fact that it involves both rural and urban areas.
The disease has been detected in Mbandaka, a city close to the Congo river, which acts as a transport link to DRC’s capital, Kinshasa.
UN raises alarm at ‘substandard’ housing in South Korea
Despite being the world’s eleventh largest economy, South Korea has a significant number of people living in “substandard” housing and struggling to pay rising rents, a United Nations rights expert said on Wednesday, noting that the country now leads developed nations in levels of household debt.
Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, was on a 10-day mission to South Korea, known formally as the Republic of Korea, to examine the housing conditions there from the human rights angle.
She said some people were “forced to live in tiny spaces no more than 5 square metres, on short-term leases and at the mercy of landlords’ arbitrary decisions to raise the rent”.
While acknowledging the Government’s “massive effort” to improve housing conditions for most of its population, she expressed her deep concern that “massive reconstruction projects” continue to destroy neighbourhoods and displace individuals and families.
She also expressed alarm at how urban areas have become unaffordable for young people and low-income households.
Ms. Farha said that the Government should adopt a comprehensive human rights-based national action plan on housing.
International Day to End Obstetric Fistula
Wednesday marks the International Day to end obstetric fistula, which the World Health Organization describes as one of the most serious and tragic injuries that can occur to a mother during childbirth.
It is the name given to the fissure between the birth canal, and the bladder or rectum, caused by prolonged, obstructed labour without treatment.
An estimated 2 million women in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Arab region, Latin America and the Caribbean are living with this injury, and some 50,000 to 100,000 new cases develop worldwide each year.
Dr. Maurice Bucagu, a maternal and child health expert at WHO, told UN News that prevention is crucial because only one in 50 women has access to surgical treatment.
“The main strategy is to use skilled birth attendants in a facility for all women who are pregnant who have labour. So, all women in labour should be in the hands of essentially midwives, and then, when there is a complication, a doctor will also support.”
He said avoiding early marriage and early childbirth is also important because giving birth before the body reaches maturity, increases the chances of a fistula.