Children now account for more than one third of the Ebola cases in affected regions of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UNICEF said today. The UN children’s agency also reported that one in ten Ebola cases is under five-years-old, while children who contract the Ebola virus have a higher risk to die from the disease than adults.
Continued efforts are needed to raise awareness of prevention methods and promote early access to treatment which dramatically improves survival rates.
The impact of the disease on children goes beyond those who have been infected. When parents or caregivers with the disease are taken to treatment centres or pass away, some children are left on their own.
UNICEF and its partners have so far identified more than 400 children who have been orphaned or left unaccompanied because of the virus. The growing number of separated children is linked to the high caseload of patients in the Ebola treatment centres of Beni and Butembo, the current epicentres of the disease.
Together with its partners, UNICEF has opened a kindergarten next to the Ebola treatment centre of Beni to assist the youngest children whose parents are isolated in the centre. The creche has taken care of more than 20 separated infants and young children, aged up to eight years, since its opening early November.
With more than 50 specialists in the impacted regions, UNICEF is operating out of Beni, Butembo, Mangina and Komanda.UNICEF