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DR Congo health minister resigns after president moves mandate for Ebola outbreak to team of experts

DR Congo health minister resigns after president moves mandate for Ebola outbreak to team of experts
Copyright REUTERS/Olivia Acland/File Photo
Copyright REUTERS/Olivia Acland/File Photo
By Lauren Chadwick
Published on Updated
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The decision comes days after the World Health Organisation declared the Ebola outbreak in the country a "public health emergency of international concern".


The health minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo offered his resignation after the President of the country decided to move the mandate for the Ebola response directly under his supervision.

Health Minister Dr Oly Ilunga posted his resignation letter to Twitter, denouncing the DR Congo president's decision stating that it would "risk creating harmful confusion and cacophony".

DRC President Félix Tshisekedi's office announced on Saturday that it would place the Ebola response under a committee directly under its supervision citing the World Health Organisation's declaration last week that the Ebola outbreak constituted a "public health emergency of international concern".

The president transferred responsibility for the response to a group of experts to ensure a coordinated response to the outbreak.

The health minister had issued guidance against the use of new vaccines against Ebola, stating that the Merck vaccine currently in use is the only one that has proven to be effective. Ilunga said in his resignation letter that serious pressure had been put on the country to carry out trials of a new vaccine.

A committee of experts to the World Health Organisation had recommended in May to vaccinate lower risk populations with "candidate" vaccines such as a new Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Ilunga added that this was a "public health crisis" in an environment "characterised by problems of security, development and health system shortages" but that it was not a "humanitarian crisis".

"Given the different challenges linked to this epidemic, it is essential that the government demonstrate leadership and coherence in strategic dialogue with partners and options related to the response," Dr Ilunga wrote in his resignation letter.
Read more about the Ebola outbreak and the WHO's decision to declare it a global health emergency here._

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