By Dianna Gibney
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is supporting efforts to combat a deadly Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), MAF officials said today.
The Christian mission organization is using its airplanes to transport medical personnel and supplies into the remote Boende district of the DRC. According to the DRC Minister of Health, 59 cases of Ebola have been confirmed in the area, including 32 deaths.
“In the past week and a half, MAF has conducted several flights to the Boende area in support of the Ebola efforts,” said John Boyd, MAF president and CEO. “There are no paved roads from Kinshasa to the outbreak site, but MAF is able to use Boende’s small airstrip to deliver medical personnel as well as quarantine equipment, personal protective kits, medication and syringes. We have also carried specimens out to Kinshasa for testing.”
MAF has nine aircraft in four areas of the DRC — in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Bunia, and Nyankunde. From these bases they fly to remote regions of the vast country, using small, rugged airstrips to serve isolated communities. In the DRC MAF supports the work of some 170 churches, medical organization, relief agencies, and others seeking to make life better for those who live in the DRC’s jungles.
Last year MAF conducted 1,151 medical-related flights in the DRC, including emergency medical evacuations and delivery of vaccines and medicines.
This is not the first time that MAF has responded to Ebola threats.
“In the 2007 and 1995 outbreaks in the DRC, our planes and people played a key role,” said Boyd. “We are experienced in such situations and have a plan in place to minimize the risk.” MAF’s Ebola Pandemic Management Plan contains procedures for safely carrying people, materials, and specimens to and from Ebola hot zones.