Geneva (AFP)

The ongoing Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains a global "health emergency", said Friday the World Health Organization (WHO), following a meeting of its 'emergency.

WHO, which declared the epidemic global health emergency on July 17, was required to re-evaluate the situation within three months.

"The public health emergency will be maintained for another three months" and "the emergency committee will be reconvened in three months," said the Director General of WHO, the Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, during a press conference. "This epidemic remains complex and dangerous," he said, deploring the lack of funding.

The global health emergency is an exceptional measure, previously decreed by the WHO four times: in 2009 for the H1N1 flu, in 2014 for polio, in 2014 for the Ebola epidemic which killed more than 11,300 people three countries in West Africa (Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone) and in 2016 for the Zika virus.

Reported on August 1, 2018 in Mangina, the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the DRC has left more than 2,150 people dead.

Back from DRC, the director of the WHO Emergency Program, Michael Ryan, last week expressed "cautious optimism" that the epidemic was "confined" to a smaller region. However, it is difficult to access, located in rural areas and presenting significant security challenges.

The DRC Ministry of Health blackened the table earlier this week, announcing that the disease had resurfaced in Ituri, in the north-east of the country, after nearly 300 days without any new cases.

"The number of cases has decreased every week over the last four weeks, but these encouraging trends need to be interpreted with caution," said Tedros. "The region is very complex and very unstable, we have made very significant progress, the number of cases has dropped, but if there are security incidents, we risk losing what we have won so far, that is why we refrain from speculating "on an end date of the epidemic.

The Ebola epidemic is the tenth on Congolese soil since 1976 and the second worst in history after that of 2014 in West Africa.

Since this terrible epidemic, an experimental vaccine has been developed by Merck Sharp and Dohme, and is now used in infected areas of the DRC. More than 230,000 people have been vaccinated. This vaccine has received the green light from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the first step towards its commercialization.

© 2019 AFP