Meet the Ebola workers battling a virus in a war zone

Source: Nature

A crack runs down one window of the armoured vehicle transporting epidemiologist Mamoudou Harouna Djingarey through Beni, a city in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). An outbreak of the Ebola virus has killed nearly 1,500 people in the region since August, but it is not the only danger that Djingarey and other Ebola responders must confront.

The window cracked on 5 June, when townspeople in Beni hurled rocks at a convoy of vehicles carrying staff from the World Health Organization (WHO), the DRC Ministry of Health and other authorities. One stone hit the head of a traditional leader from the neighbouring Butembo district, who was travelling in the convoy. He was hospitalized for several days but survived.

Such clashes neither deter nor bewilder Djingarey, a programme manager at the WHO. “We just need to ask them why they throw stones,” he says. The crowd that attacked the convoy was upset that officials and health workers drove through a checkpoint without stopping to wash their hands in chlorinated water, as local residents have been ordered to do.