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WATCH: MSF speaks on DRC's worst cholera outbreak

05 February 2018 9:10 AM
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WATCH: MSF speaks on DRC's worst cholera outbreak

Cape Town – A medical humanitarian group has said that it is unable 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 despite facing some serious challenges.

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, it was difficult to reach 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. But, Kinshasa is a big city and we cannot reach everyone that is affected," 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 included the conflict riddled Kivu region that has seen an influx of migrants going into Zambia.

"We are doing our best in teaching the locals about hygiene and helping those who are affected by this disease, but unfortunately we cannot reach everyone. We are providing help to those who are most vulnerable and the health department has been helping us," 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.

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 we would also need more resources,"he said.


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