Home FEATURES WHO: Women are key in Ebola response

WHO: Women are key in Ebola response


According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), local women in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have taken a leadership role in explaining the disease, and learning how to stop the spread of Ebola.

The current Ebola outbreak in the country is the tenth since the disease was identified there in 1976, and the largest they have experienced.

Response efforts have been complicated by insecurity and armed conflict. Another challenge is how this outbreak has disproportionately affected women in some of the cities and towns, though not all.

Gender imbalance

As of end-January 2019, there have been over 700 cases of Ebola in DRC, of which about two-thirds are women. Historically, Ebola tends to affect women and men at about the same rate.

In this photo, a WHO epidemiologist is using a flash thermometer to take the temperature of people in a community where there have been cases of the disease.  

Containing the outbreak

The fight against Ebola is still in full swing and Julienne Anoko, a social anthropologist working for WHO, believes that strengthening the voice and involvement of women is key to containing the outbreak. 

Ms Anoko also emphasizes that it’s important for women to stay vigilant in Beni, while WHO duplicates what’s worked there with women in the new Ebola hot spots of Butembo and Komanda.

“I really want these women leaders at the senior management coordination table helping to drive the response,” she says.

Photo: WHO/Lianne Gutcher