Scientist with personal protective equipment (PPE) testing samples from animals collected in then Zaire for the Ebola virus during the 1995 outbreak | Wikimedia Commons
Nine suspected cases of people infected with the virus have already been reported in the DRC. Three of these cases have died, and the Ebola virus has been detected in one of five blood samples from patients suspected of having contracted the disease, which is associated with a high mortality rate among the people it affects.
While it is relatively easy to deliver aid by plane to Kisangani, the big city in the northeast of the country on the Congo River, and from there by road to Buta, the capital of the Bas-Uele, “after that it gets complicated”, Régis Billaudel says, who is the head of mission of the medical aid NGO Alima.
“We’ll explore several possibilities to cover the 150km distance between Buta of Likati, combining canoe and speedboat along the Itimbiri, tributary of the Congo, and two wheels,” says Billaudel, while an Alima team is already underway.
Transport by car is impossible: 4×4 vehicles cannot drive on local forest tracks, which are too narrow.
“Bring heavy equipment to these areas, it’s a huge challenge,” Mr Billaudel said. “This is the world of motorcycling, biking, the stretcher.”
According to Mr Kabambi, the Mission of the United Nations in the Congo (MONUSCO) and the Food Programme (WFP) should “facilitate aerial rotations” to deliver material, medical staff and medicine to Buta using helicopters and small aircraft that operate in the DRC.