(Adds details on tradi-modern facilities, epidemiological breakthroughs)
By Marina Depetris
GENEVA, Nov 13 (Reuters) – The Ebola outbreak in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which has already killed more than 200 people, is expected to last until mid-2019, a senior World Health Organization official said on Tuesday.
"It's very hard to predict timeframes in an outbreak as complicated as this is so much so that we can control over, but we're planning on at least another six months before we can declare this outbreak over," WHO emergency response chief Peter Salama told reporters.
The outbreak in Congo's North Kivu province has caused 333 confirmed and probable cases of the deadly virus, and the worst in Congo's history.
The location of the disease is probably the most difficult of the WHO has ever been enforced, due to a mobile population, insecurity caused by two armed groups, and spread by transmission in health centers, Salama said.
The "tradi-modern" health centers in the town of Beni, he said.
"Those facilities, we believe, are one of the major drivers of transmission," he said.
The tradi-modern facilities were unregulated, informal, and varied from being a standalone structure to a room in someone's house.
Many had no running water for handwashing, and patients – who generally opted for injectable medicine because they felt it was a stronger form of medicine – would reuse needles.
"With the injections come the risks," Salama said.
Ebola patients were exposed to a number of epidemiological breakthroughs in late-October, when children were treated for malaria in the tradi- tional health centers. (Reporting by Marina Depetris, writing by Tom Miles)