New Ebola drug trial brings hope to the Democratic Republic of Congo

New Ebola drug trial brings hope to the Democratic Republic of Congo

A new drug trial for Ebola has brought hope to people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The DRC experienced their tenth outbreak of Ebola in August 2018, this has resulted in 608 cases and 368 deaths.

On the 24th November, the DRC’s Ministry of Public Health announced the start of a randomised control trial (RCT).

Dr Janet Diaz, WHO’s team lead for clinical management of emerging infectious disease, said:

“This is the first multi-drug trial for Ebola treatments, and the rigorous collection and analysis of data is expected to deliver clarity about which drug works best. This will ultimately save lives in future outbreaks – either in the DRC or in other countries.”

The study has a target enrolment number of 336 but it is unlikely that they will fulfil this goal. As a result, the trial is permitted to cover multiple outbreaks in multiple countries over a period of 5 years.

The trial is being conducted under harsh conditions and due to the ongoing conflict it can be regularly interrupted, disrupting the important work.

Professor Sabue Mulangu, Ebola research coordinator at the INRB, said:

“Security is a big challenge. Sometimes we have to stop our work early because security is not good and staff have to respect curfews. We really try to minimize this but it’s not easy, I can tell you.”

The trial has already improved the health of many people. Kambale Kombi Vianey arrived at the Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) and tested positive for Ebola. He was close to death and one of the first people to be admitted to the new trial.

Within five days Mr Kambale was given the all clear and allowed to go home. Now, ReliefWeb reports that he has returned to the ETC to care for other sick people.

The trial brings new hope to the DRC and could be an important method of reducing Ebola-related deaths in the country.

Mr Kambale said:

“Maybe in this way, I can convince other people in my town that there is a treatment available for Ebola and that they can get better. And if they feel ill, they should go straight to the ETC.”

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Photograph: World Health Organisation

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