Uganda and surrounding countries are at an increasing risk as Trump blocks American experts
Kampala, Uganda | AGENCIES | One of history's biggest outbreaks of Ebola shows no signs of slowing down – and the Trump administration has stopped US health experts who want to help out in the epicenter of the Democratic Republic of Congo eruption.
Beni has officials from the Center for Disease Control and Control (CDC). the city that is the zero point for the eruption in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo for a few days in late August and early September. Experts say that this is an unusually short time for infection reactions. The CDC deployments typically last at least four weeks and many run for several months.
Then, the National Security Council of the White House (NSC) co-ordinated a government review of security risks involving representatives of several government agencies and departments. The review found that CDC officials could not return to areas where militant attacks threaten security, including Beni. On October 14, the news agencies reported for the first time that the US had left the area.
"It's unprecedented that CDC's expertise is not the focus of the response, because that was the pattern for the other outbreaks," said Stephen Morrison, a global health expert in the Think Tank of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, to Vox , "We have some people at CDC who are veterans of nearly two dozen outbreaks."
Others who worked locally to stem this Ebola outbreak, which had led to 251 cases and 127 deaths by October 26, said they had not noticed the brief presence of the CDC at all. A high-ranking humanitarian official not affiliated with the Trump administration told Vox he believed CDC experts were never in Beni.
Another non-administrative senior humanitarian official added that while America has vehicles on the ground in the city, they have not been used.
"These three armored US embassy vehicles that have been in Beni's United Nations parking lot for two months have never moved," the official said.
However, CDC officials insist in talks with Vox that their experts have worked in Beni.
The relatively lukewarm US response to a period of eruption is affecting former CDC officials and global health experts.
"I'm worried that in the worst case, tens of thousands of people could break out," said Daniel Bausch, director of the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, and the complete destabilization of an already fragile region. "
This is an "unprecedented" answer – in a bad way
Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, who responded to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2014 to 2016, said it was "unusual" and "not optimal" if CDC experts did not work at the epicenter of the outbreak.
Others agree: DRC health workers and others fighting the Ebola outbreak "are not winning the game," Morrison said. "You have to have every player in the field who is competent, experienced and able to solve these problems."
The outbreak started in July and worsened in recent weeks after violent attacks by Congolese rebels on civilians temporarily halted the public health response.
A spokesperson for the CDC said his staff have been in Kinshasa since the beginning of September, 1,000 miles from the breakout zone "where they continue to support the response." But before that, CDC's involvement in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was not characteristic. The CDC said its director, Robert Redfield, was in Beni for a day while other employees were only there "for several days".
Redfield reportedly told a reporter that he wanted local CDC representatives in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help with the response to the outbreak, but was overruled by security concerns.
"The (Ebola responders) have a huge disadvantage because they do not have the expertise the CDC has on the ground," he said, adding that he was "happy" to travel there himself to help.
To date, the CDC has used only 18 foreign workers to help with the Ebola reaction, and not all are even in the Democratic Republic of Congo (outside the epicenter of the outbreak) Switzerland too.
The CDC wants to be in Beni. The administration says it's too risky.
The reason for keeping US health officials out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the following reasons is that it is a dangerous area and nobody wants to get in the way of US officials.