AFRICA/DR CONGO - Cholera in Kinshasa: the commitment of health institutions and Caritas to combat the epidemic

Tuesday, 16 January 2018 caritas  


Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - There are over 50,000 cases of cholera registered during 2017 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Between 25 November and 28 December 2017 the capital Kinshasa counted 133 new infections, with the death of 12 patients.
With floods at the beginning of the year in Kinshasa, health minister Oly Ilunga fears the worst: "cholera is a water-related disease, therefore the risk of spread is high".
Didier Bompangue, coordinator of the National Program for the Elimination of Cholera and the fight against other diarrheal diseases (PNECHOL-MD), says that the spread of cholera comes from a series of causal factors that have been added over time:
- global warming, which causes many epidemics in various Countries of the world;
- the fact that cholera has become endemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1994;
- the succession of epidemics not sufficiently controlled and, consequently, not completely eradicated;
- anarchist urbanization in cities like Kinshasa.
Of the 35 health centers in Kinshasa, 14 have already reported cases of infection. Two treatment units have been set up to treat affected patients, including that of Camp Luka in the municipality of Ngaliema, opened on 8 January. Regarding the solutions to be adopted to counter the spread of the epidemic, PNECHOL-MD does its duty, but its coordinator recognizes the need for collaboration. "The health system manages only a small part of the problem. The problem of cholera is a multisectorial problem. It is really time for REGIDESO (society responsible for the distribution of drinking water), civil hygiene and finance to come together to face this challenge".
François Mbutshitshi, Head of the Emergency and Social Protection Program of Caritas, talks about the involvement of the Catholic Church in Kinshasa in these terms: "We participate in the reflections with other partners, to know how to provide an answer. This requires to disinfect water with chlorine, it is necessary to disinfect the environment affected by the epidemic, the affected people must be identified and the medical service must take care of the patients already affected. This is the work carried out by the volunteers of Caritas Kinshasa.The coordinator of PNECHOL-MD is optimistic about the fact that it will be possible to eradicate the epidemic because - he concludes - "we know exactly what we must do" (P.M.B.) (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 16/1/2018)