By Robert Herriman @infectiousdiseasenews
To put it straight, the humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is just plain bad…horrible.
The crisis is complex –large, serious disease outbreaks, millions of internally displaced people (the largest displacement crisis in Africa), violent conflict (There are now more than 100 armed groups vying for territory and control in eastern DRC), millions face food insecurity, atrocity crimes including violations against women and children, political instability– and this is just the short list.
Some people in the country have not seen peace in more than 20 years.
Ten percent of children will not live to five years of age.
Here I want to look at the first component of the crisis listed–large, serious disease outbreaks.
The DRC Ministry of Health has reported 2,437 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) cases since August 2018 in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the northeast of the country. This includes 1,646 deaths. This makes this outbreak the second largest since the first outbreak was reported in 1976.
To make things worse, this particular outbreak is happening in densely populated and conflict-affected areas making it more difficult and dangerous to access affected people and areas.
There has been violence against health workers, burial teams and other Ebola workers.
DRC is experiencing one of the largest measles outbreaks on the globe this year. Since the beginning of 2019, 107,061 measles cases, including 1,879 deaths (CFR 1.75%) have been recorded.
This is far more than the 65,000 recorded in all of 2018.
UNICEF reports health workers are urgently rolling out a complex measles vaccination campaign targeting 67,000 children in Ituri; however, this mission is plagued with difficulties–violence, an Ebola zone where health workers must incorporate extra measures to protect against EVD infection.
While Ebola, and to a lesser extent measles grab the few headlines, other outbreaks are taxing the country including monkeypox.
Since the beginning of 2019, a cumulative total of 2,331 monkeypox cases, including 50 deaths (CFR 2.1%) were reported.
DRC has seen six circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) cases this year and 20 last year.
Since the beginning of 2019, a total of 12,711 cases, including 276 deaths (CFR 2.2%) have been notified from 20 out of 26 provinces.