Nobel winner Mukwege quits local DR Congo virus team over problems

  • Denis Mukwege head of a coronavirus taskforce in a province in the country.
  • He cited a "weakness in organisation and clarity" as some of the reasons for his resignation.
  •  Congo has declared 4 390 coronavirus infections.

Nobel winner Denis Mukwege on Wednesday said he had resigned as head of a coronavirus taskforce in an eastern province of DR Congo, blaming organisational problems, outpaced strategy and slow testing.

Mukwege, a DR Congo gynaecologist who shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for his work against sexual violence in war, was appointed on March 30 to lead a committee in South Kivu province.

Panzi Hospital, where Mukwege treats abused women, is also located in the province.

In a statement, he said there had been "weaknesses in organisation and clarity between the various teams in charge of the response to the pandemic in South Kivu."

READ HERE | Covid-19: Africa has come together to face its challenges – Ramaphosa

"We are at the start of an exponential... curve (in infections) and we can no longer apply a strategy that would be purely preventive," Mukwege said.

"I have decided to resign... in order to devote myself entirely to my medical duties and to treat the influx of patients at Panzi hospital."

He said he regretted that it took "more than two weeks" to get coronavirus test results from the national reference lab in Kinshasa -- "a major handicap for our strategy based on 'testing, identifying, isolating and treating'."

READ | Africa needs at least a 3-year debt halt to avert depression, says Ghana’s finance minister

Mukwege also criticised developments that he said had "reduced the effectiveness" of the anti-virus campaign.

They included a relaxation in vigilance by the public, hurdles in enforcing distancing and the return of thousands of people from neighbouring countries without quarantine.

Mukwege had pleaded in mid-April for partial confinement of people over the age of 60 and compulsory mask-wearing for everyone to help break the chain of virus transmission.

OPINION | The sun rises on Africa as we mark the 57th anniversary of the OAU

On May 9, he called for "emergency supplies" of tests "before the exponential curve (of infections) gets underway."

The Democratic Republic of Congo has declared 4 390 infections, including 3 980 in Kinshasa and 89 in South Kivu and a total of 96 deaths.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
Is social media doing more harm than good?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, our children are exposed and we can't protect them
49% - 3087 votes
Yes, but social media is part of the new reality
46% - 2887 votes
No, it's great for growing a child's world view
5% - 318 votes
Brent Crude
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo