WATCH: MSF speaks on DRC's worst cholera outbreak

2018-02-05 11:10


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Cape Town – A medical humanitarian group has said that it was working around the clock to "reach everyone who is affected" by a cholera outbreak that has left at least 33 people dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa.

The central African country was experiencing its worst outbreak since 1994, with at least 55 000 cases and 1 190 deaths being reported in 24 out of 26 provinces last year.

In an interview with News24, the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) field co-ordinator, Pierre van Heddegem, said that his organisation was doing everything it could, to save lives and was taking pride in how it had responded to the outbreak in the central african country's capital.

The cholera outbreak has reached the country’s capital Kinshasa, with at least 869 cases being reported and 33 deaths having occurred since November 25.

According to van Heddegem, Kinshasa was a big city that was densely populated and as result, MSF has reached everyone who was suffering from Cholera.

“Since November 25, they are at least 869 people infected with the diseases in Kinshasa and about 33 people have been killed. The organisation [MSF] is taking pride in how it has responded to the crisis.Kinshasa is a big city and we have,however been treating almost all the patients affected by cholera," said van Heddegem.

In a statement, the aid group said that it was in the forefront of humanitarian response as it had treated at least half (about 25 300) of those who were affected by the cholera outbreak in the central African country.

Some of the provinces that the group has offered aid to included the Tanganika region, but maintains that it was not its mandate to take care of all the education to health of people. 

“It is not in MSF mandate to take care of all the education to health of people and so to work on the prevention of the outbreak, rather than on the response;there are other stakeholders, notably working in development, who should take care of this," said van Heddegem.

MSF said in areas where access to drinking water and sanitation was poor, cholera was a highly contagious disease.

The illness caused severe diarrhoea and vomiting, leading to patients becoming rapidly dehydrated.

Marie (name changed for privacy), one of the patients of the MSF Cholera Treatment Center in Camp Luka, Kinshasa. She is now stable and progressively recovering from cholera. (Carl Theunis/MSF)

Van Heddegem said that the outbreak in the central African country was "very serious" but it was still manageable. 

Kinshasa had a population of 12 million people and it remained the nerve centre of the country’s trade and home to one in every six Congolese.

The city was vulnerable to cholera because of a lack of drinking water, a lack of sanitation, and a lack of health infrastructure that is properly adapted to provide treatment in cholera-affected areas. 

"In order to deal with the Cholera outbreak we would need to educate people, and deal with the underlying causes,"he said. 

Read more on:    msf  |  drc  |  central africa

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