DRC (MNN) — Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is facing a new Ebola outbreak with 31 confirmed cases. Nine infected people have died so far. The World Health Organization (WHO) says this outbreak has the potential to expand and is lingering on an “epidemiological knife-edge”.
It’s estimated there could be an additional 21 unconfirmed Ebola cases. Last Monday, an Ebola vaccine was tested in the DRC — the first testing in a real-world outbreak. The WHO shipped thousands of vaccine doses and aid groups are building treatment facilities.
The Ebola virus originates in animals and is passed on to humans through bodily fluids, but the transmission is still a bit of a mystery. Those infected suffer from a high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, internal and external bleeding, and eventually organ failure. This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in the last 42 years.
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in Western DRC is responding to the Ebola outbreak in partnership with medical organizations.
Garth Pederson with MAF says, “We are flying medical personnel and supplies into the affected area. When there was first some rumors about this, we actually flew a team up to the Mbandaka area to do some more testing and then we flew some of the samples back to the capital city, to Kinshasa to be verified. So then that’s when the confirmation was obtained that it was Ebola.”
For medical personnel, it can be unnerving going into a quarantined area with a confirmed Ebola outbreak.
“You know, it’s kind of a scary disease. When they get off the plane then, often times they will hug each other and shake hands knowing that will be the last time they’ll be able to do that — show that physical affection — until they leave the affected area because it’s so virulent.”
Garth says, for the MAF pilots, “It is an opportunity for us especially to minister to some of the medical personnel that are going up there. We pray before each flight and so we pray for the people that we are flying and we just pray God’s blessing on them and protection.
“I think in the way that we show our care and compassion for the people who are going in there, that is one way that we can really express our love for them and the love of Christ as well.”
As the government, organizations, and ministries work to stop the spread of Ebola in the DRC, they could really use the prayers of believers.
“You can pray for us, pray for our pilots and mechanics, pray for our families that are there. We are a bit short staffed now, so there is kind of an extra load that is placed on our expat and national staff. So if they could pray for us, that we would just be healthy and we would be able to meet the need that we have there.”
Pederson also adds, “People can be praying for the experimental vaccine that is being used now, that it would be effective, and that the virus would not spread through some of the more populated areas.”
If you’re interested in learning more about joining MAF as a pilot, mechanic, or other roles, you can visit MAF’s website here!
“MAF’s ministry is really focused on isolated people, bringing the Gospel as well as physical blessings to people that are isolated, and Congo is really a good example of where there [are] a lot of isolated people. There [are] very few roads…but the airplane is really an effective tool in reaching out to these very isolated people.”
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