Since the end of November 2017, Kinshasa province has been facing an outbreak of cholera. Since that time, 1065 cases including 43 deaths (case fatality rate = 4%) have been reported from 32 out of 35 health zones in Kinshasa province.

DRC map
Democratic Republic of the Congo/CIA

In January 2018, following intensive rains and flooding events, case numbers increased from less than five to more than 100 weekly reported cases. However since mid-January, there has been a downward trend in the number of suspected and confirmed cholera cases.

Although the weekly incidence of cases in Kinshasa has been on a downward trend since mid-January 2018, the situation remains alarming.

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo is an endemic country for cholera. Sporadic cases and outbreaks are common, particularly in the eastern provinces of the country. Kinshasa, is not part of the endemic provinces for cholera, but has reported several cholera outbreaks over the last years.

Kinshasa is the third largest city in Africa with a population of approximately 10 million inhabitants. The city is characterized by a rapidly growing population driven by rural migration, leading to overcrowding and frequent occupation of flood plains that are not suitable for settlement, poor infrastructure, lack of adequate drainage and limited access to water and sanitation. These factors make Kinshasa particularly vulnerable to flooding and waterborne diseases, especially during the rainy season, which runs from November to June.

Cholera is an acute enteric infection caused by the ingestion of Vibrio cholerae bacteria present in faecally contaminated water or food. It is primarily linked to insufficient access to safe water and adequate sanitation. Cholera is a potentially serious infectious disease and can cause high morbidity and mortality. It has the potential to spread rapidly, depending on the frequency of exposure, the population exposed, and the context.