The incidence of malaria in the DR Congo has been rising during the past three years, particularly in recent months, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders). An article on the MSF website reports that in six of the eleven provinces of Congo, the number of cases treated at the organization’s clinics and hospitals has risen by 250 percent since 2009. In recent months they have seen a high number of cases of the most severe form of the disease. Each year, malaria kills 300,000 children under five in Congo. It is the top cause of death in the country.
MSF points out that the DRC presents a “context of a health system that is sorely lacking resources at all levels.” This is true across the country, but some areas are particularly disadvantaged. The eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, for example, are still plagued by continuing violence from militias, DRC military, and all sorts of renegades–an unsettled and fearful context that makes it hard to seek treatment for malaria and other illnesses.
The article also cites Équateur province–where PCP works–as needing help, saying “the limited presence of effective healthcare providers and overstretched health systems make it difficult for people living in endemic areas to access prevention and treatment.”
The best means of protection against malaria is long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets. The DRC government recently launched a major distribution of the nets in Katanga, Bandundu, and North and South Kivu provinces, as reported in an article on ReliefWeb. Supported by UNICEF, the World Bank, and other international agencies, this current drive will give out a total of 13.7 million nets. In the past, Équateur has benefited from similar international distributions. In spite of these efforts, WHO (the World Health Organization) reports that only 6 percent of Congolese children sleep under treated nets.
The Paul Carlson Partnership has been supporting medical care in northwest Congo for over 40 years. Read more about our medical work elsewhere on this website, with further information on our Medical Ambassadors site.
SAJ 1 May 2012