At least 50 children have been orphaned since the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was confirmed on August 1, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed.
To date, there at least 44 deaths and 78 confirmed or probable cases of Ebola in the region. Another 24 suspected cases were awaiting laboratory confirmation by August 17.
DR Congo UNICEF Country Representative Gianfranco Rotigliano said children in the disease-endemic areas were directly and indirectly affected by the current Ebola outbreak.
“Children affected by the ongoing epidemic need special attention and care. Women are the primary caregivers for children, so if they are infected with the disease, there is a greater risk that their children and families become vulnerable
“Many children are faced with the illness or death of their parents and loved ones, while some have lost large parts of their families to disease and become isolated,” Rotigliano said.
So far, 2 children have died while 6 others suspected to be infected are receiving treatment. Family members of the infected and health workers are at high risk of contracting disease in the current outbreak.
Among other emergency response measures, UNICEF and its partners have trained 90 psychosocial workers to assist and counsel children admitted in Ebola treatment centres.
These psychosocial teams also provide support to children who have been treated of Ebola and discharged, but face the risk of stigmatization on return to their communities.