The European Union (EU) announced on Tuesday that it had granted 350,000 euros in aid to combat the mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a press release.
Congolese health authorities have reported nearly 9,000 cases of mpox in the country, and 500 deaths this year, the EU delegation in the DRC said in a statement, adding that the Maniema province (east) is the worst affected.
The spreading epidemic has reached the capital Kinshasa, where "two patients were confirmed and treated last week", it added.
The situation has prompted the EU to "step up its support and extend it to three new health zones in Maniema, by strengthening response capacities, notably through surveillance, community awareness-raising, diagnostics and treatment".
The 350,000 euros from the European Union will go to ALIMA, a medical humanitarian organization operating in the DRC, for a five-month project.
The funds will help the organization to "address urgent and critical needs related to training and capacity building in disease surveillance, case management and infection prevention through community engagement, health promotion and outbreak response preparedness, as well as capacity building of health personnel, structures and system", said Johan Heffinck, Head of Office of ECHO (European Commission Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations).
The disease - which was first reported in humans in the DRC in 1970 - is characterized by skin rashes, which can appear on the genitals or in the mouth, and can be accompanied by fever outbreaks, sore throats or pain in the lymph nodes.