Information Management to Curb the 12th Ebola Epidemic in DRC

iMMAP supports the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health through coordination and targeted information management services that help eradicate a new Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

EVD vaccination campaign (WHO/Eugene Kabambi)

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been struggling with ongoing internal conflict and health epidemics including Measles, Cholera and the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) for over a decade, a situation that is now compounded with the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to all these issues, the country suffered its 12th Ebola epidemic after the Ministry of Health declared a new outbreak of the disease on February 7, 2021, based on the presence of the Ebola virus in a sample taken from a patient in North-Kivu. This resurgence later led to 12 confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the region.

Following the declaration of the epidemic, the Ministry of Health and other health stakeholders in the country activated the response plan to contain this new wave of the EVD. iMMAP, which has been operating in DRC since 2019 supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health actors, quickly began to assist responders through the provision of information management services to help eradicate the new EVD outbreak in the country.

iMMAP’s Gédéon Banswe, an experienced information management officer (IMO) seconded by to WHO in support of the Ministry of health in Beni, was part of the Ebola response mission team deployed to Butembo.

Gédéon Banswe (second from the end) and the WHO Ebola response team (WHO/Eugene Kabambi)

In the early stages, aiming to ensure effective response coordination, iMMAP delivered targeted services to partners that included setting up mechanisms for data collection, processing, and dissemination in all affected health zones in the region. Leading the information management area of intervention, Gédéon coordinated and supported an information management (IM) team of 10 data managers from five health zones (Biena, Butembo, Katwa, Kalunguta, Musienene), who were assigned to manage confirmed cases, alert cases and contacts lists of high-risk individuals. The IM team further assisted the vaccination teams to identify high-risk unvaccinated contacts to ensure a more effective response to curb the epidemic.

The IM team regularly mapped confirmed and high-risk contacts, which helped evaluate the trend of the epidemic to deploy response measures in the affected health zones. These information management activities enabled the team to build a clear picture of the needs and gaps in the response. Further support included the drafting of regular situation reports which were disseminated to all relevant humanitarian, government, and UN stakeholders for decision-making.

March 10, 2021 EVD Cases Map

These targeted information management activities helped eradicate the 12th Ebola epidemic in DRC, which was contained through the coordinated work of all responding actors. Currently, there are no new EVD cases and contact tracing ended on March 22, 2021.

The crucial support provided by the iMMAP IMO to the team of data managers was emphasized by Charme Waleyirwe, Data Manager for the Ministry of Health:

Supporting us in the installation of the contact monitoring databases was great work. Currently, I am able to compile and consolidate various datasets coming from different health zones by myself and share them with decision-making bodies within the Ministry of Health.

Disinfecting the Medical Technical Institute (WHO/Eugene Kabambi)

As part of the Cooperative Agreement with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), iMMAP continues to support WHO and the Ministry of Health through ongoing guidance to data managers in monitoring alerts for new cases, which continues even after the epidemic is declared over.

iMMAP has been providing crucial information management services to humanitarian, government and United Nation partners in DRC since 2019. While supporting Health partners in the Ebola response through information management services, iMMAP also provides multisectoral support through the COVID-19 Situation Analysis project to improve the overall humanitarian response in the context of the global pandemic.

Find out more about iMMAP's work in the Democratic Republic of Congo