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2nd-Deadliest Ebola Outbreak In History Declared Over


A deadly Ebola epidemic, the second worst in history, has now come to an end in Democratic Republic of Congo. NPR's Eyder Peralta reports.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: The Ebola outbreak lasted almost two years, in large part because it happened in the part of Democratic Republic of Congo beset by armed rebel groups, extreme poverty and poor infrastructure. Abdou Dieng, who coordinates Ebola response for the United Nations, says health workers in the region faced unprecedented violence.

ABDOU DIENG: There have been about 300 attacks on health structure. Eleven people have been killed among health workers and patients.

PERALTA: But now the World Health Organization declared the outbreak over. More than 2,000 people died, but health workers and scientists deployed experimental vaccines and experimental treatments. And for the first time, a clearly effective treatment for Ebola was discovered. So unlike in other Ebola outbreaks, the disease was not an automatic death sentence. Here's Abdou Dieng of the U.N.

DIENG: It has showed that there is a chance to survive now because I was in West Africa during the Ebola. The chance of survival was almost nil.

PERALTA: He calls this moment bittersweet. It's a big victory, but it could have been transformative. A year ago, I sat with Dieng's predecessor in eastern Congo, who called the epidemic an opportunity. Congo was going through a historic transfer of power, and the Congolese were clearly tired of fighting and dying. The country, he said, was ripe for a political solution to intractable problems. But that moment, says Dieng, has evaporated.

DIENG: I'm not saying it's gone forever, but...

PERALTA: He alludes to Congo's falling back into dysfunctional politics. There is now a new Ebola outbreak, and after initial success containing the coronavirus, COVID-19 appears to be taking off. Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Nairobi.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE COMET IS COMING'S "UNITY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.