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Democratic Republic of Congo

OUR COVID-19 RESPONSE IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

In the capital Kinshasa, MSF teams have been treating COVID-19 patients in the St Joseph Hospital, one of the six hospitals identified by the Ministry of Health for COVID-19 patient care. From early May to early June, an average of 30 patients per day were being treated at the centre, with 20 per cent requiring oxygen therapy. We have trained medical staff on COVID-19 detection and prevention, and MSF’s team has developed a 50-bed isolation ward. At the Kabinda Hospital Centre in Kinshasa, where MSF supports HIV/AIDS patients, we have set up an isolation unit with 20 beds. MSF mobile teams are also supporting 50 health structures in four health zones in Kinshasa to strengthen hygiene measures, train and equip staff with personal protective equipment, and carry out health promotion activities within the community.    
  
In South Kivu, MSF is establishing isolation centres in Baraka hospital, Kimbi hospital and Nyange Heath Centre for suspected COVID-19 patients. These centres will be able to care for 80 patients as well as provide mental health support. We are supporting the Ministry of Health with laboratory work and sample analysis.   

In Goma, MSF is preparing to support the Ministry of Health in managing a COVID-19 treatment centre. The centre will be housed in a facility previously used to treat Ebola patients.   

MSF has started production of reusable masks in Goma and Kinshasa. These masks are non-surgical masks and will be distributed to patients, their carers, and non-medical staff in the healthcare facilities that MSF supports.      

In Bukavu, we are assisting with the dignified and secure burial of patients who have died from COVID-19.    

Our staff are supporting the Ministry of Health with training of healthcare workers in infection prevention and control measures as well as pre-triage, triage, screening and isolation for people with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, in all structures where we work. In some of the country’s hospitals and healthcare centres where MSF is already present, we are building isolation circuits within the structures and setting up additional beds for the isolation and care of potential COVID-19 patients. 

 

Can you make a donation to support our COVID-19 response?

Right now, Médecins Sans Frontières is providing much needed support and medical care in over 30 countries to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Our teams are also gearing up to confront potential outbreaks in the hundreds of areas we were already working before the pandemic struck. We are deploying medical staff, sending supplies and applying nearly 50 years of experience fighting epidemics to protect the most vulnerable and save lives.
 
Can you help increase our capacity to respond by making a donation to our COVID-19 Crisis Appeal?

 

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Since 1981 Médecins Sans Frontières has been running some of its largest programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where millions of people are displaced due to armed conflict and longstanding crises, as well as outbreaks of disease across the country.

The second largest country in Africa (after Algeria), DRC is rich in natural resources but plagued by conflict.

Until recently, the country has been at the centre of what some observers have called “Africa’s world war”: the five-year conflict saw government forces, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, clash with rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda.

Despite a peace deal and the formation of a transitional government in 2003, people in the east of the country remain in fear of death, rape or displacement by marauding militias and the army.

Due to poor access to healthcare, the average life expectancy in DRC is around 58 years. One in 10 Congolese children dies before the age of five.

Response to Epidemics

DRC is prone to outbreaks of infectious diseases, including Ebola, and we support local authorities in the response. We run targeted vaccination campaigns against measles and malaria, and interventions against cholera, yellow fever, and tuberculosis.
 
Raising awareness through community-based activities is an integral part of our projects.  
 
MSF directly supports local health services and centres. We support the national HIV/AIDS program, which is implemented by the country's health authorities. Our teams work on improving access to screening and treatment, reinforcing treatment adherence, and patient retention. A community-based program manages the distribution of antiretroviral (ARV) medication to stabilised patients. 
Robin Meldrum

Sexual and Reproductive Health 

Sexual violence is a major issue in DRC, affecting men and boys as well as women and girls. We provide medical and psychological support. We also support family planning activities, provide antenatal and postnatal consultations, and treat patients for sexually transmitted diseases. 
 

Emergency and Mobile healthcare 

Emergency response is a core activity for MSF. Several teams are dedicated to monitoring health alerts and deploying a rapid response to outbreaks of violence, population displacement and epidemics across this vast country.
 
With the goal of guaranteeing adequate healthcare, MSF teams distribute relief kits, run mobile clinics, manage health promotion, and organise water and sanitation activities within communities and for displaced people.
MSF teams work in North and South Kivu, Kasai, Ituri and Tanganyika, among other areas. 
 

Speaking out Case Study

Rwandan Refugee Camps in Zaire and Tanzania 1994-1995

Following the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, nearly 2 million ethnic Hutus fled across the border into eastern DRC, as well as Tanzania and Burundi, where they settled in large refugee camps. Humanitarian access to the camps was severely limited, or outright denied; and refugees were subjected to targeted armed attacks by Rwandan and Burundian armies, as well as the AFDL (Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congoforces.

MSF tried to provide aid to both refugees and local populations caught in the fighting. These teams came face to face with the AFDL’s and the Rwandan army’s bloody methods, which included using humanitarian organisations as a lure to draw refugees out of hiding.

In the years since the atrocity, MSF released a detailed case study, highlighting the dilemmas that emerge from humanitarian involvement in conflict situations. The report outlines the decision for MSF staff to speak out.

Find out more about DRC