DRC: The miracle of child Ebola survivors
For the first time-ever, a baby born to an Ebola-positive mother was delivered without infection, and more than half of children infected with the virus have been discharged as cured. This is compared to the 2014-2016 West Africa outbreak, when more than 80%* of children under the age of 5 who were infected with Ebola, died.
“As with many diseases, during an Ebola outbreak, children are more fragile than adults because their immune systems are not as strong yet,” said ALIMA’s Dr. Junior Ikomo. “Complications, such as dehydration and hemorrhaging, are especially deadly for children, as compared to adults.”
According to UNICEF, children account for one-third of Ebola cases during the ongoing outbreak in DRC.
While the same treatment molecules are used to treat children and adults, the dosage is adjusted in children. And, like all patients, the earlier children recieve treatment, the better their chances of survival.
Children also require additional emotional and psychological support. Separated from their families, they are even more afraid than adults to stay alone, inside the CUBE or a treatment tent. This is why ALIMA has been working with Ebola survivors - who can no longer be infected with the virus - to help care for child patients 24/7.
At ALIMA’s treatment center in Beni, 47 children under the age of 15 have tested positive for Ebola since August 2018, including 28 children under the age of five. Thanks to the efforts of the medical team, 21 of them have survived.
A look back at some of their stories:
Gloria, 3 years old
(Credit: Simo Sougou / ALIMA)
Benedicte, 6 days old
Sylvana, 5 days old
*Data source: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00431-017-2914-z
Cover photo: Jennifer Lazuta / ALIMA