“Many consider Ebola a myth”

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Ms. Kerr, the current Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo rages on for more than a year. Why is to stop the disease so hard to do?

Kerr: The democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the most complex countries in the world. It is huge, stretches across two time zones and is made up of 26 provinces, each functioning as a separate country. From the capital of Kinshasa to Goma to fly more than two hours, as long as from London to Madrid. The people here are constantly in motion because they are on the run, or because you commute between the various provinces and neighbouring States to earn their livelihood.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Should all borders be closed?

Kerr: That would be impossible to implement. Much more important is it that people go immediately into a treatment center as soon as the first symptoms appear. You will be treated within one to three days, you will have a good chance to be cured. If not, the risk is high that the disease is fatal. Without treatment, about 70 percent of those Affected die. Unfortunately, too few of them, you can still treat.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why is that?

Kerr: The mistrust in the population is still large. Many consider Ebola a myth – invented by pharmaceutical companies to make money. And not a few believe that a man infected via vaccinations in the first place with Ebola. Again and again treatment centers have been attacked. Recently, there has been much less attacks, but mobile units, which travel through the cities and villages, are still at risk. This year alone, there were more than 200 attacks on helper.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How can the distrust be reduced?

Kerr: This is one of our most important tasks. We are constantly in contact with the people, to clarify you about the symptoms and about the disease and how you can treat it. Many of the Survivors to help us. They tell of the therapy and how they were cured. As a result, we make progress slowly. Earlier Ebola Survivors were ostracized, frequently, today, the more rarely is the case.

MIRROR ONLINE: “Save the Children” focuses mainly on the needs of children. How much they suffer from the epidemic?

Kerr: so Far, there are about 700 registered cases of Ebola in children, more than 500 have died. Their mortality rate is higher than in adults. Add to this that the disease has made hundreds of children to Half – or full orphans. At least 2400 more life because of the disease permanently separated from their families.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What happens with these children?

Kerr: The lack of protection of the family makes them more vulnerable to violence and abuse. In addition, be required to been Recently back to school fees, the orphaned children are difficult to raise. According to estimates, 60 percent of children have no access to health care. And Ebola is not the only threat to children. Many of them had to watch as family members or injured were killed or they themselves were attacked.


Of the Congo – a Name, two States

There are in Central Africa, the democratic Republic of the Congo to the capital Kinshasa, and the Republic of the Congo with its capital Brazzaville. The border between the two countries runs along part of the river Congo. At the Congo conference, the European colonial received the French forces in 1884/85 in Berlin, the smaller the territory of today’s Republic of the Congo. The Belgian king Leopold II acquired the territory of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo and made it to its home colony, which he exploited ruthlessly.

In 1960, both the Belgian and the French colony gained independence. After several name changes (including Zaire) is the name of the former Belgian colony since 1997, democratic Republic of the Congo, the former French colony since 1991, the Republic of the Congo. For reasons of better readability, we use in our texts for the democratic Republic of the Congo in General, the simple name of the Congo.


SPIEGEL ONLINE: What hope do you put in the newly developed vaccines?

Kerr: Currently, especially medical assistants and directly Affected vaccinated. After that, the people who had contact with the Infected, then the contact persons the contact persons and so on. The epidemic really contain it would need to be significantly vaccinated more people. Similar is true for the drugs used. You are not able to increase the survival rate, although, really, you can contain the disease, however. In addition, no Drug has been officially approved as an agent against Ebola.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: what, think you, could the epidemic is contained to be?

Kerr: That it is difficult to estimate. I very much hope that it will not last even a year. With security, we can’t say the however. In the meantime, we still had hope that the disease could contain it. Most recently, the case numbers rose again slightly. A major setback was the recent outbreak in South Kivu. A young mother died, her child had become infected. Thus, the disease is more in the South penetrated as ever. The fight is not over yet for a long time.