Surveillance is key in tackling Ebola

A WHO worker stands on a hill overlooking the city Photo: John Kisimir
As the third largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Goma has more than 1 million people. It’s located on the shores of Lake Kivu in the Eastern part of the DRC, where Ebola has affected communities in North Kivu province (Butembo, Beni and Katwa). Alongside the Government, WHO and partners are jointly preparing Goma for any possible Ebola outbreak. They aim to protect Goma by stopping any spread of the virus.
Dr. Ramses Kalumbi and colleagues in a team meeting Photo: John Kisimir
Dr. Ramses Kalumbi serves with WHO’s Ebola Response, as Surveillance Team Leader overseeing all tracking and surveillance activities throughout North Kivu and Ituri.
Medics search for possible Ebola cases Photo: Tania Seburyamo
Every morning, a team of medics check on a number of health centres and communities in Goma in search of possible Ebola cases. In case of an alert when suspected cases are reported by health facilities, community leaders or families are referred to specialized testing facilities in Goma.
Alliance Honoré Photo: Tania Seburyamo
Alliance Honoré is in charge of the Goma Alert call centre. When she receives a call about a suspected case, from hospital or community, she sends a team of investigators directly to the scene.
Elisabeth Mwai, Community Engagement Photo: Tania Seburyamo
Elisabeth Mwai is part of the teams that engage communities daily to share information on Ebola, deal with rumors and explain what communities need to do to protect themselves from Ebola.
Rapid Response Team Photo: Tania Seburyamo
A Rapid Response Team is in place and has been doing simulation exercises in preparation for a possible outbreak. These include how to wear protective materials, and how to engage affected families.
Infection Prevention Control Photo: Cosmas Mungazi
A major part of the Infection Prevention Control teams’ work is improving sanitation and hygiene routines within communities. This includes handwashing, sanitizing, and decontamination.
Fostin, a traditional healer Photo: Tania Seburyamo
In the DRC, traditional healers like Bahati Sabdimana Fostin play a big role in supporting their communities and in sensitizing communities on the dangers of Ebola. Fostin has called the alert centre whenever he suspects that one of his patients has symptoms that could be Ebola.
Dr Fatoumata Keita converses with medical personnel Photo: John kisimir
Hospitals in Goma have been prepared to detect suspected cases and walk through the process of referrals.

Here, Dr Fatoumata Keita, a surveillance team member, engages doctors on how to quickly detect suspected cases.
Point of Entry screening Photo: Tania Seburyamo
In collaboration with the national authorities, WHO also supports preparedness planning at entry points at airports, land crossings and porta. WHO assists with training at each entry point.

A team, assigned every day at each entry and exit point, screens travellers.
Dr Kalumbi negotiates with a family Photo: Tania Seburyamo
Engaging and empathizing with families that have to go through the process of being screened and tested is a critical part of Dr Kalumbi’s day-to-day work.

Here, Dr Kalumbi persuades a family in Goma to allow one of their relatives to be taken into an Emergency Treatment Centre (ETC) to be screened and tested. These negotiations can be difficult and emotional, and tact and patience is needed. In this case, the tests on the patient were negative and he was returned to his family.
Ebola Vaccination Photo: John Kisimir
Vaccination is one way of protecting health workers and the communities they serve against Ebola. Health workers who could come in contact with the disease all receive vaccinations.
Rachel just heard that she is not carrying the Ebola virus Photo: Tania Seburyamo
Rachel has just heard that she is not carrying the Ebola virus. She was under surveillance at her home in Goma for 21 days after she and her four children visited a friend in Beni who contracted the virus.

The surveillance team vaccinated the family but had been concerned that her contact with her friend put her at risk of becoming infected herself, and potentially further infecting others in her family.