The public health workers behind the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are struggling to combat an outbreak of the deadly virus in what is effectively a war zone. Repeated rebel attacks on the city of Beni—the outbreak epicenter and the headquarters of the response operation—have given the virus an advantage over the humans trying to contain it, acknowledges Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director-general.
The most recent attack, on Friday, targeted a military encampment close to a hotel in Beni where some Ebola responders are housed. The hotel was hit by a shell that did not detonate. In the aftermath, a decision was made the next day to evacuate 16 personnel experiencing emotional distress and to insist on heightened security from the United Nations peacekeeping force in the area, known as MONUSCO.
STAT caught up over the weekend with the WHO director-general, who traveled to Beni earlier this month. We asked Tedros, as he is known, about the WHO’s ongoing battle against Ebola in North Kivu province and whether a global health emergency should be declared.