LONDON , -- Wednesday's announcement by the World Health Organization indicated that officials in eastern Congo have started to vaccinate people against Ebola after last week's confirmation that a toddler had died from the disease.
In a statement, the U.N. health agency stated that anyone at high risk for contracting the disease, including his family and medical workers, would be given the first Merck vaccine doses.
WHO reported that about 1000 doses of vaccine arrived in Goma (the capital of Congo's North Kivu Province) and that 200 doses were sent by Beni to Beni, which is near the location where the first case was discovered last week.
After a deadly epidemic that began in 2018, more than 2,200 people died in the conflict-ridden area. In addition, more than 80 WHO Ebola responders were found to have abused victims during WHO's efforts to end the disease.
The agency stated that one of the 15 Congo officials dispatched this month was an expert on preventing sexual abuse or exploitation.
In May, an Associated Press investigation revealed that WHO senior management had been informed of numerous instances of sexual abuse, but did not act. One doctor was accused of offering women jobs on the vaccine team in return for sex.
The AP also discovered that WHO managers approved a contract to compensate a woman allegedly infected by a WHO doctor. These details were confirmed by a report last month by a panel that examined sexual abuse during the Ebola response.
The WHO Ebola Response Team was led by more than 80 people. They also identified fundamental structural and cultural issues in the agency.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, stated that he was unaware of the claims about sex abuse until they were published in media. This despite having been to Congo 14 times during the outbreak. He also took personal responsibility for the response.
Numerous donors and countries have since asked WHO to improve its emergency response system and to punish those who were involved in the abuse. No senior managers have been fired and only one official was writtenly informed.Updated Date: 16 October 2021, 15:37