US officials have former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo record Ebola messages

U.S. officials are working with basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo to help fight the recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

"I am speaking with you today because I care deeply about our country, and I need your help to stop the Ebola outbreak in the north part of the country. Ebola is real. The current outbreak is the country’s largest ever," Mutombo, who is from the DRC, says in a video posted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Spots were recorded in Kiswahili, French and Lingala.


Mutombo's assistance to the CDC after more than 2,200 people have been reported ill — and about 1,500 have died — since an Ebola outbreak was declared in August in the DRC's east.

Cases have also emerged in Uganda.

Mutombo, who moved to the U.S. in the 1980s to pursue a medical degree at Georgetown University, told The Associated Press he understands where distrust of Western medical help comes from.

“Someone who doesn’t look like you, who doesn’t think like you, who is not from your village, who is from other places, just walk to your village with a nice beautiful white truck and telling you ... ‘inject this chemical into your body to protect you from this deadly virus.’ That’s where there’s a fight. This is where we’re having a conflict,” he said.

“How do you that build trust? That’s the big problem we’re having in the Congo,” he said. “I believe as a son of Congo, I think my voice can be heard. Because everyone in the country knows my commitment to the humanity and the health.”

In the video, Mutombo recommends seeking treatment, staying away from those infected, following safe burial procedures and accepting vaccines if offered them.