Declaration of PHEIC in DRC Should Spur Support, Not Fear

July 22, 2019

The World Health Organization’s declaration that the year-long Ebola crisis is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) is hoped to raise much-needed awareness and resources for preparedness and control efforts across the region, says the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). The decision was made following new incidents highlighting risks of repeated cross-border spread of the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As organizations representing more than 11,000 infectious diseases and HIV specialists, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and its HIV Medicine Association recognize that the resources needed to contain this crisis will be substantial. IDSA says it also recognizes that investments made now will not only save lives but avert needs for much greater expenditures later. In addition, it is critical that efforts are also aimed at strengthening community capacities to prevent a crisis of this enormity from occurring again.

As WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted, the response to this PHEIC must be rooted in solidarity and in evidence. We support his and the committee’s recommendation that restrictions to trade or travel, including border closures, must not be part of this response, as they would be both cruel and counter-productive, harming communities and hampering efforts to detect and monitor the spread of disease.

As also was noted, events in the Democratic Republic of Congo have highlighted both the value of outbreak preparedness investments and the shared interests of supporting those efforts. IDSA calls upon the administration to invest in appropriate and immediate responses to the current outbreak and will continue to urge Congress to provide a minimum of $172.5 million for USAID’s global health security efforts and $208.2 million for the CDC Center for Global Health Division of Global Health Protection in funding for the coming year. We stand ready to lend guidance and support to the evidence-based efforts that will be essential to end this outbreak and prevent the next.

Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)