Connector Articles, Ebola

FBOs Respond as Ebola Returns to DRC

November 21, 2018

by Kathy Erb

On August 1, 2018 the Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) declared an outbreak of the Ebola virus and CCIH members are responding. World Vision’s response involves local faith leaders and capitalizes on their influence and the trust they have in the community to reach people with life-saving messages. “Due to the success we had with Channels of Hope Ebola in the outbreak in Sierra Leone in 2014, we have applied the program to this specific context to address issues of community resistance around messaging on Ebola with good results,” said Helen Barclay-Hollands, Director, Eastern Zone, World Vision DRC. “For example, one person who became ill declared he would not listen to anyone except his priest when asked to go and get tested for Ebola. Fortunately, his priest had been trained in Channels of Hope and shared the messaging with him. He agreed to go to the Ebola Treatment Center where he was tested and found to be negative for Ebola.”

Ms. Barclay-Hollands recommends involving faith leaders of all denominations in the area from the beginning in education efforts. “We conducted a Training of Trainers approach and now it is the faith leaders themselves who are conducting the training with support from World Vision,” she explains. ‘This has been effective as they are able to ensure the messages are transmitted in the right languages and style for their peers and congregations.”

Other CCIH members responding include IMA World HealthWaterStep and World Relief and the Baptist Church in Central Africa. IMA World Health received funding from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) to support its response efforts. In partnership with local communities, IMA World Health ensures health workers have the equipment and resources they need and reach at-risk health zones. “IMA’s support of local organizations and communities strengthens government-led responses and helps ensure that the improvements continue beyond the crisis,” said Dr. Larry Sthreshley, a Presbyterian Church (USA) missionary and IMA’s DRC Country Director, based in Kinshasa.

WaterStep sent 15 Bleach Makers to the DRC in October to provide medical grade bleach to kill the Ebola virus. The portable Bleach Maker is a handheld device that can generate powerful disinfectant on demand. Using water, salt, and a 12-volt car battery, the Bleach Maker uses a process called electrolysis to create sodium hypochlorite, more commonly known as chlorine bleach. The Bleach Maker was developed in response to the West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014.

World Relief is responding through its country program in the DRC with an extensive awareness and primary case management training program in the Church Empowerment Zones in North Kivu and Ituri provinces and so far have sensitized and trained over 73,000 people.

The Baptist Church in Central Africa (CBCA) responded to the latest outbreak of Ebola in Beni and Lubero in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by installing hand-washing stations at churches, schools and other public places, engaging religious leaders in educating the community, training 60 local educators, and through the use of flyers and megaphones to share messages on hygiene and how to avoid spread of the virus.

The project was supported by Tear Fund Canada, CBM Canada (Christian Blind Mission), and the United Evangelical Mission and lasted three months in late 2018. CBCA focused its efforts on the areas of Beni, Mangango, Visiki, Maboya, Busaghala and Katwa.

The educators were trained to counter many rumors, such as the virus was invented for political gain, and burial teams desecrate the bodies of victims before burial. A total of 657 people (including pastors and community members) participated in the training. Trained pastors included messages in their Sunday services in at least 95 parishes. In Butembo and Beni, the average parish membership is 500 to 700 people and in the rural areas it is 200 to 400 people. With an average of 450 people per parish, CBCA believes the message may have reached at least 42,750 worship participants. Since the rural population regularly listens to the radio, two stations covering the territory of Beni were used for educational broadcasts.

As of November 18, 2018, there were 326 confirmed cases and 169 confirmed deaths.

If you or your organization is responding to the Ebola outbreak in DRC and have observations, comments or requests to connect with others working there, send a message to the CCIH Ebola Google Group. Contact Kathy Erb at kathy.erb (at) with questions.

Above photo: Handwashing Station in the DRC, courtesy of World Vision.

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