The DRC’s Underground Doctors

Some doctors fighting the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history are afraid to wear scrubs. They mask their identities to avoid harassment and violence in Congo, where the epidemic is spreading at the fastest rate since it started in August — and where rampant misinformation fuels a distrust of outsiders in medical garb. The World Health Organization has logged 119 attacks this year against health workers. Eighty-five have been wounded or killed. Fear is changing tactics among aid staffers, who set out to convince communities that Ebola is real and they were there to help end it. Now some downplay their mission in public, swapping white coats for street clothes and attention-grabbing SUVs for motorbikes that blend into traffic. “Our staff has to lie about being doctors in order to treat people,” said Tariq Riebel, emergency response director in Congo for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a global aid group.


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