Skip to Content

Kinshasa

Ebola is back, but will witchcraft prevent vaccine?

A new Ebola outbreak has been declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the deaths of three people have been linked to the virus. At least one of the deceased has tested positive for the virus, according to the DRC's health ministry. But will a vaccine trump witchcraft?

Published: May 22, 2017, 10:59 am

    Read more

    Tests from nine people who came down with a hemorrhagic fever in Bas-Uele province on or after April 22, showed the disease, the statement said.

    Bushmeat was believed to be at the origin of the former devastating West African Ebola outbreak. The first victim’s family ate bats, which carry the virus. The meat of wild animals is popular in Africa, including eating chimpanzees, fruit bats and rats. It can even include porcupines and snakes.

    But Africans believe Ebola is a result of witchcraft and “evil spirits”, not bushmeat.

    “Ebola is a very frightening disease and you have different perceptions of disease … anthropologists are going out to see if people believe this is an infectious disease or if it is witchcraft or something,” said Hilde de Clerck. She works for Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which has also sent emergency teams to the DRC.

    “If we get the trust, then we can move on. This is something you need to do before the launch. You could do more harm, you could frighten people, they could misunderstand what the vaccine is.”

    In Africa’s Congo Basin, people eat an estimated five million tonnes of bushmeat per year, according to the Centre of International Forestry Research.

    Ebola was first identified in 1976, and this is the eighth outbreak since 1976 in the DRC, but the virus has never spread as fast or as far as it did in West Africa.

    In West Africa, between December 2013 and January 2016, more than 11 000 people died from the disease. In 2014, a three-month outbreak in DR Congo killed 49 people.

    The World Health Organisation however declared Ebola no longer an emergency in March 2016.

    In early May the WHO celebrated in Guinea with CEO Margaret Chan, at the epicentre of the devastating 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak. In the capital, Conakry, Chan announced that trials for the Ebola vaccine had been successful.

    “Scientists do not yet know exactly where in nature the Ebola virus hides between outbreaks but nearly all experts agree that another outbreak is inevitable. When this occurs, the world will be far better prepared.”

    As Chan spoke, the next outbreak was already in progress. On April 22, in Likati, a remote northern region in the DRC, the new case of Ebola was diagnosed.

    As of May 15, there were 19 suspected cases and three fatalities, according to the WHO.

    There are reportedly 300 000 doses of the vaccine on standby in Canada, paid for by Canadian taxpayers. The cost of getting it to Africa is daunting.

    “The affected area is facing a big logistical challenge, with the lack of the cold chain, on how to maintain a good temperature of the vaccine once in the remote and forested field. This requires a huge logistical operation to mount for that issue,” said Eugene Kabembi, a WHO spokesperson.

    The origin of the West African outbreak was traced to a two-year-old child from the village of Gueckedou in south-eastern Guinea, an area where batmeat is frequently eaten.

    The infant, dubbed Child Zero, died on 6 December 2013. The child’s family confirmed that they had eaten two species of bat which carry the Ebola virus.

    The Washington Post questioned at the time why “Africans keep hunting and eating bushmeat despite Ebola concerns”, but could provide no answer.

    A team of personnel, along with experts and specialists from Médecins Sans Frontières, the US Centre for Disease Control, Unicef and WHO, will be deployed to tackle the latest outbreak.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Africa

    South Africa’s ANC starts to expropriate land without compensation

    The ANC leadership of Ekurhuleni, a large make-shift "metro" cobbled together from various towns and cities east of Johannesburg, has voted to ahead with the country's first "expropriation without compensation"  - known by the acronym EWC.

    South African president blatantly lies about farm murders

    President Cyril Ramaphosa's lies during an interview on Bloomberg television has led to an angry response in South Africa. Ramaphosa's spokesperson quickly had to step in "to explain what the president said" but did little to explain away his lies.

    White existence is a crime, says South African black party spokesperson

    Black First, Land First spokesperson Lindsay Maasdorp gave a presentation on the South African government's coming amendment of section 25 of the constitution to allow for white land expropriation without compensation.

    Turkish state broadcaster calls white farm murders in South Africa a ‘myth’

    Turkish state broadcaster TRT World released a video last week claiming that the ongoing white genocide in South Africa is a "myth".

    White farmer’s union welcomes Trump tweet as IMF lauds land grab

    The conservative South African agricultural union, TAU SA believes that its long-time international campaign to bring farm murders to the world's attention, has begun to produce results, and is therefore pleased about the announcement made by American president, Donald Trump to investigate the possible expropriation of land without compensation as well as the farm murders.

    The true facts about land and farm murders in South Africa

    PretoriaThe American president's tweet about the land grabs in South Africa, expressed a justified concern about events unfolding. Those who doubt the veracity of Donald Trump's tweet should familiarize themselves with the facts about farm murders and the threat to property rights in the country.

    Trump tweets on South African land grab and genocide of white farmers

    President Donald Trump's tweet about South Africa's land grab policy and farm murders, made global news today.

    The mainstream media is silent about the coming crisis in South Africa

    A researcher at the American Cato Institute has warned that South Africa will soon be going down the same disasterous path as its neighbour Zimbabwe did in 2000. The mainstream media is eerily silent about the coming crisis.

    South Africa: ‘You can’t conjure up farmers’

    The futility of trying to debate with the ANC at the recent public hearings on the South African government’s proposal to introduce legislation permitting land to be expropriated without compensation, was obvious. ANC supporters would only respond that they were "sick and tired of white people".

    South Africa’s ANC regime expropriates first white-owned farms amid ‘land panic’

    Will South Africa follow Zimbabwe into hyperinflation and economic collapse as white farmers' land gets confiscated? Both farmers and the country's banks are frightened by the ANC regime's radical plans for 'expropriation without compensation'.

    Go to archive