New emergency Ebola response chief in DR Congo promises more listening, to end frequent interruptions in fightback
Newly appointed UN Ebola response chief in the Democratic Republic of the Congo DRC has promised to listen more to the fears and concerns of local people in a bid to end frequent interruptions, hampering the fight against the deadly virus response coordinator, David Gresley, who's also deputy, head of u n stabilization mission in the DRC Manisco told you a news that violence by numerous armed groups protests and demonstrations together with political mistrust had adversely affected the government and World Health Organization, led response, one thousand two hundred eighty died in the country's worst ever outbreak. Mr. Gresley is heading to the epicenter pretend bow to work closely with partners and local leaders to finally contain the outbreak. He spoke to you and uses Christina Silveira, it's a very serious situation on the ground were quite worried about the situation is continued for now. Ten months in terms of the response. But the democ has been circulating for over a year now. And one of the key problems that we've seen on the ground is that there have been frequent interruptions in the response, which gives a virus a chance to multiply and usually tend to days to two weeks later. We see a sharp increase after these interruptions, due to sometimes protests, sometimes attacks, physical attacks and demonstrations, override things that have disrupted the the response, and it's important to understand why the, the attacks are happening. Why protests are happening at cetera so that we can find a way to sustain a response in a way that it's not interrupted. And so that we can bring it to, to, to close. The virus doesn't care. We cannot just use a technical approach to the response to be eight show, a ministry of health in particular have the skills for that. They have the means on the ground for that. But it's not enough by itself. And you need a larger response, they deals with the issues that I've described of security, and resistance. If you're going to finally put an end to this epidemic. So B U N has announced that it's strengthening its operations and its strategy. You've been appointed coordinator for the urgent response against Bola. What are the changes that are going to be made on the ground? Is it just a merely of positions? No, that's not the intent at all the, the, the intent is to strengthen the broader support the technical response led by the ministry of health supported by WHO will certainly continue. But what will be put in place is a reinforced structure that will be looking at the security issues, the resistance issues more closely, and that will require a much closer work with a local population. He'll communities traditional leaders to understand where their concerns are why there might be resistance and build the confidence of the community and the support most importantly, so that we can create an environment allows the responders to do their job. And to bring this thing to an end. It's also a question of, of making sure that the people who may have been in contact with victims of, of Ebola are dente, fide and monitored in terms of their own health, and if they become ill that they can receive treatment that's, that's the key to actually breaking the transmission of Ebola. But when that is disrupted, and are those the and that tracking is lost, then the virus will continue to circulate we're fortunate that. It has not gone outside of the immediate area. It's not even covering the whole province. And I think there we have to think the very good efforts for vaccination has gone on that has helped contain it amongst some of the changes, you will be moving the decision making center, the operation center to Timbo the current epicenter, we will be moving the operational decision making to the center of the. Can timbo? I will go there myself, we will build a team around that to reinforce the team that are already there. There are senior UN and, and, and, and ministry of health personnel to ground already. I think we have to recognize that. So this is a compliment to what's already there, but was important is that we have rapid decision making on the ground that's not held up by bureaucracies of various organizations. And that's why the decision was taken to put senior leisurely ground who can take those decisions based upon what they see on a day-to-day basis strategic guidance will stay in concerto regional operations will be based in Goma that does not change, but the day to day response, and the, the adapting to each circumstances, that arise can only be done locally. What are you expecting these changes to mean on the ground concrete concretely for the population for the health workers? And for the attackers, obviously, we wanted to bring the Potomac to close as quickly as possible. But in order to do that. I think what the local community should expect is a much closer engagement on our part with them to understand their fears their expectations to provide clear information about how the epidemic is how it spreads. And how it can be treated and contained these are all extremely important that, that work be accelerated on the ground to, to build that confidence lifting. It'd be listening to the population. That's it. That is exactly it you have to listen to the population. They have to tell us what they're thinking. That's what that engagement means. You don't learn much by talking. You'll learn by by listening. So I think that's extremely important. I think people have been frustrated by the lack of, of being listened to, and, and it's important to overcome that. So that's extremely important. Do you have an idea of what is going on? Why there is so much mistrust, the situation. There is a bit complex of there's been conflict going on. For over twenty years. It's an area of political opposition, historically to, to the government in Incan Shasha. So there's a bit of a version of people coming in from the outside. Secondly, you, you when you see a situation where you have a massive response for one, one issue in this case of Bulla where other issues have been neglected for twenty years, people, ask questions, it's just a natural human thing. And that's some of the things that need to be talked through, and there may be -tunities to address other issues while addressing the ability issue talking about the issue of tax when there's a strong community acceptance and, and, and actual desire for something that, too can help on the security side. He started getting it from. Nation that tells you what, what may or may not happen, and how you may want to operate when that positive relationship is established. And as you as you rightly said earlier, you do that by listening to what people are thinking and feeling then you have the basis to move forward and constructive way. So we need to do this, it takes its own time to do this. We don't have a lot of times we have to find a way to structure that in, in an effective way and have an open door policy that allows that information and that exchange to take place as frequently as required for this to be resolved. You mentioned demonstrations before and political climate, which is usually contentious, or seize Kinshasa as other this area wasn't allowed to participate in the recent elections. Is that that is well they were able to, but only after the three months too late and. And that was a problem because when the announcement was made for the delay in the election in, in, in this in the territories around Binion boot Timbo, it was the reason cited by the, the electoral commission was the -able outbreak, which created a perception that bring me this as a political issue, and not a health issue those relations have now taken place. So that's less of an issue today. But that's only happened at the end of March. So that time period between did create that that perception, and it was unfortunate because I think it contributed to some of the delays and interruptions described.