Ebola relief efforts continue despite temporary relocation.
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has been transporting vaccines, medical personnel and supplies, and sanitation equipment into the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since early August to aid efforts to stem an outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD).
MAF staff in Nyankunde have temporarily relocated their operations to Uganda due to a positive test of the EVD in the Nyankunde hospital in late December. They expect to return later in January if it is determined to be an isolated EVD case.
Emergency relief flights by MAF are continuing from other airstrips until they can resume using their Nyankunde base. Since August 7th, MAF has conducted 24 Ebola-related flights with 99 passengers and nearly eight tons (7,211 kgs) of cargo.
Jon Cadd, program manager for MAF’s operations in the Eastern part of the DRC, said the temporary relocation has created some logistical challenges to their aviation operations, but they will continue to respond to the crisis. “MAF has been responding to Ebola outbreaks for many years and has a wealth of experience in this area. We have an Ebola Pathogen Management Plan we follow to protect staff and minimize the risk of transmitting the virus. We know that Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids or from eating infected bush meat and contacting fluids from infected animals. We use strict protocols for handling patient samples that we deliver for testing and to clean our aircraft to keep staff and passengers safe.”
Due to the vast distance to reach remote villages, jungle terrain that makes overland travel difficult, and areas prone to communal violence in one of the country’s most populated provinces, air travel provided by MAF is one of the quickest and most efficient means of delivering supplies and people to Ebola-impacted areas.
The DRC, along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other medical groups, is battling this most recent outbreak of the EVD located in the northeast part of the country. According to the WHO, the number of deaths has reach 377 out of 625 reported cases for this outbreak. This is the ninth outbreak of EVD in the DRC since the discovery of the disease in 1976.
Story and Photos by MAF.