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Cablegate: Drc: Disaster Declaration for Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever

VZCZCXRO2828
OO RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1128/01 2630559
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200559Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6924
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5081
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2099
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0533
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KINSHASA 001128

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS, AIDAC

USAID/W FOR A/AID HFORE
USAID/DCHA FOR MHESS, GGOTTLIEB
DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, AFERRARA, ACONVERY, KCHANNELL, MSHIRLEY
DCHA/FFP FOR TANDERSON, NCOX, TMCRAE
DCHA/OTI FOR RJENKINS, KHUBER
USAID/AFR FOR KALMQUIST, BDUNFORD, JBORNS
NAIROBI FOR USAID/OFDA/ECARO JMYER, ADWYER
NAIROBI FOR USAID/FFP
GENEVA FOR NYKYLOH
NSC FOR PMARCHAM
BRUSSELS FOR USAID PLERNER
NEW YORK FOR TMALY
USMISSION UN ROME FOR RNEWBERG
CDC ATLANTA
DHHS FOR WSTEIGER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL PHUM CG

SUBJECT: DRC: DISASTER DECLARATION FOR EBOLA HEMORRHAGIC FEVER
OUTBREAK

REF: A. KINSHASA 1075
B. KINSHASA 1085
C. KINSHASA 1094
D. KINSHASA 1121

1. (SBU) This is an action request for emergency assistance.
Please see paragraph 10.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: Following laboratory confirmation of Ebola virus
in Mweka rural health zone in Kasai Occidental Province, the
Congolese Minister of Health has requested international assistance
to contain the outbreak. The outbreak is beyond the government's
capacity to manage effectively, and it is in the interest of the USG
to provide assistance. The Charge d'Affaires declares a disaster
and requests an initial USD 1,000,000 (one million) in emergency
relief assistance. The funds will be used to improve case
management, strengthen laboratory response, and to design and
implement measures to prevent the further spread of the virus. End
summary.

-----------------
Current Situation
-----------------

3. (SBU) Following initial delays in the reporting of suspected
Ebola cases, GDRC, WHO, MSF, and USG (incl. CDC) health teams have
coordinated effectively to identify and verify the virus. Although
local health authorities first observed the symptoms of Ebola
hemorrhagic fever in Mweka rural health zone in Kasai Occidental
Province on April 27, they did not notify national health
authorities until mid-August. Staff from the UN World Health
Organization (WHO), the GDRC Ministry of Health (MoH), and
USAID-funded Project AXxes teams collected samples from the affected
area and shipped them to the CDC and the Biological Laboratory of
Franceville, Gabon, at the end of the week of September 3. Both
laboratories confirmed positive results for Ebola hemorrhagic fever
on September 10.

4. (SBU) As of September 17, Kasai Province health officials have
reported 380 cases of Ebola virus, including 171 deaths,
representing a 45 percent mortality rate. Many of the victims have
died within 48 hours of presenting symptoms, including fever,
vomiting, headache, bloody diarrhea, and joint and muscle aches.
The epicenter of the outbreak is in Benandongo village in the
Kampungu health area, Mweka rural health zone. To date, the
outbreak has affected three rural health zones, specifically Mweka,
Luebo, and Bena Leka. Seven individuals are in quarantine in
Kampungu, of whom three are critically ill, one is moderately ill,
and three are recovering. Health teams are closely monitoring 117
people in Kampungu, 32 people in Mweka, and 8 people in Bulape, all
known to have had contact with infected individuals.

----------------
Response Efforts
----------------

5. (SBU) Since Health Minister Makwenge Kaput officially declared
the outbreak on September 10, the MoH has hosted daily information
and coordination meetings with donors and relief organizations. The
MoH dispatched a team to Kasai Occidental to assess the needs,
coordinate response efforts, and collect and relay information
regarding the outbreak.

6. (SBU) On September 5, prior to confirmation of the Ebola
outbreak, USAID assembled a team through Project AXxes to assist
with early detection and response efforts. The USAID team has
delivered 400 kg of relief supplies and equipment, including

KINSHASA 00001128 002 OF 003


medicine, a manual on managing Ebola outbreaks, and gloves, masks,
disposable gowns, chlorine, body bags, and hazardous waste disposal
material. USAID has received approval to provide personal
protective equipment (PPE) to response personnel for disease control
and containment efforts.

7. (SBU) USG Mission collaborative efforts include daily update
cables by the embassy Economic Officer and the Public Affairs
Officer is preparing information in conjunction with a CDC epidemic
communications expert for the local and international press.
CDC/Atlanta is providing virus confirmation testing until the local
laboratory is established. Shigellosis and Typhoid epidemics are
also occurring at the same time. CDC conducted a field assessment
September 13 and 14 to identify lab and case detection sites with
USAID Project AXxes partners. The CDC team recommended, and the
MOH-led Ebola Coordination Committee agreed, to establish an Ebola
testing lab at the Luebo Hospital, about 5 miles from the epidemic
epicenter. CDC/Atlanta has sent a 10-member team to the DRC to
assist with response strategies, including 62 boxes of equipment and
supplies. An additional 2500 kilos of lab material will arrive via
air freight this week. The specialists and equipment will arrive in
Luebo over the coming days to establish the Luebo Ebola lab.

8. (SBU) Other international contributions include additional
medical staff, PPEs, and isolation facilities provided by WHO. The
World Food Program (WFP) is providing free transport of equipment
and materials to Kananga, the provincial capital 125 kms and eight
hours by vehicle from Mweka. Landing strips at Mweka and Luebo, two
hours and half an hour respectively from the epicenter, are short
and rough, allowing only for small planes capable of carrying at
most one ton of cargo at a time. The UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC),
Canada, Medecins sans Frontihres (MSF), and the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are also providing assistance for
site distribution.

----------------------
Request for Assistance
----------------------

9. (SBU) The MoH has officially requested the following
international assistance: medical expertise and logistics to
increase the capacity for case detection, isolation, and transfer of
patients to health facilities for treatment; sample collection and
shipment to laboratories abroad; and water, sanitation, and hygiene
interventions to prevent further transmission of the Ebola virus.

--------------
Action Request
--------------

10. (SBU) The current Ebola outbreak is beyond the GDRC capacity to
manage effectively and is of sufficient magnitude to warrant USG
involvement. The GDRC has requested international support to
contain the outbreak, and it is in the interest of the USG to
provide assistance. On this basis, the Charge d'Affaires declares a
disaster and requests USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
to authorize USD 1,000,000 (one million) for initial emergency
response activities in affected areas. Mission plans to use these
funds to respond to the needs expressed by the MoH.

11. (SBU) USG assistance will be provided to CDC to strengthen the
ability to respond to the disaster through the training of local lab
staff; establishing a dry blood spot system; providing support to
establish a case detection system in affected zones; procurement of
reagents and specimen material; transportation of specimens to
Kinshasa and Atlanta; and improvement of the DRC national lab in
Kinshasa to ensure better handling of specimens in future. USG

KINSHASA 00001128 003 OF 003


assistance will help WHO to strengthen surveillance by improving
case detection skills of health care providers and community health
workers; reinforce universal hygiene measures; provide psychosocial
support to patients and their families; disseminate guidelines for
prevention; detect and manage hemorrhagic fevers; and establish an
Ebola alert system in the two Kasai provinces using appropriate
communication means. Finally, USG assistance will be provided to
UNICEF to develop key messages for local health personal and
surrounding communities; and for the development of job aids and
mass media materials.

----------
Conclusion
----------

12. (SBU) The hemorrhagic fever outbreak caused by Ebola virus in
Kasai Occidental province is not yet contained and there are new
cases and victims daily. Cases are not limited to the area
immediately surrounding the epicenter, as there are some confirmed
and suspected cases as far away as Kananga, 125 kms southeast,
Tshikapa, 125 kms southwest and only 50 kms from the Angolan border,

SIPDIS
and Muena Ditu, 300 kms southeast along the rail line in neighboring
Kasai Oriental province. Therefore, it is critical that the US
Mission respond at this time with USD 1,000,000 (one million) in USG
disaster assistance to CDC, WHO and UNICEF to support efforts to
contain the virus. The GDRC has requested assistance and has stated
that it will accept USG humanitarian contributions.

BROCK

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