Posts tagged DRC

Some 2.96 million people are currently displaced in DR Congo  and many of them have no access to humanitarian assistance. Many communities are cut off from medical care due to poor infrastructure, displacement and conflict, and adequate assistance is not being provided in rural and conflict-affected areas by aid organizations and by the state. At the same time, violence against civilians, medical staff and property is commonplace, and health care providers are regularly required to suspend operations, leaving people deprived of the medical care they urgently need. Read MSF’s report, “Everyday Emergency: Silent Suffering in Democratic Republic of Congo”: http://bit.ly/1mT34fk

Some 2.96 million people are currently displaced in DR Congo  and many of them have no access to humanitarian assistance. Many communities are cut off from medical care due to poor infrastructure, displacement and conflict, and adequate assistance is not being provided in rural and conflict-affected areas by aid organizations and by the state. At the same time, violence against civilians, medical staff and property is commonplace, and health care providers are regularly required to suspend operations, leaving people deprived of the medical care they urgently need. Read MSF’s report, “Everyday Emergency: Silent Suffering in Democratic Republic of Congo”: http://bit.ly/1mT34fk

"I was shot, even though I wasn’t fighting anyone or committing any crime." - Munyasadimana, a displaced man in Mgunga camp, DRC. Hear the stories of some of the 2.96 million people currently displaced in that country. After 20 years of fighting, a lack of medical assistance and other needs, many displaced Congolese experience "Everyday violence".

Photo by Marcus Bleasdale18-month-old Asifiwe and her mother have been fleeing violence in Kibabi, Democratic Republic of Congo, for weeks, and the child has become severely malnourished. She was able to receive urgently needed nutrition treatment at an MSF mobile clinic. Medical teams go to Kibabi every week or two when security allows.

Photo by Marcus Bleasdale
18-month-old Asifiwe and her mother have been fleeing violence in Kibabi, Democratic Republic of Congo, for weeks, and the child has become severely malnourished. She was able to receive urgently needed nutrition treatment at an MSF mobile clinic. Medical teams go to Kibabi every week or two when security allows.

SLEEPING SICKNESS IN DRC
Sleeping sickness is a slow killer. National borders are not recognized by the tsetse fly; the parasite criss-crosses the forest and will happily migrate with either flies or humans and continue to infect new people and new areas.MSF has significantly reduced the number of sleeping sickness cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo through a mobile screening and treatment unit. Barrie Rooney, a laboratory scientist in DRC, talks about our work and the bold challenge MSF has taken on of eliminating the threat from this parasite: Read more.

SLEEPING SICKNESS IN DRC

Sleeping sickness is a slow killer. National borders are not recognized by the tsetse fly; the parasite criss-crosses the forest and will happily migrate with either flies or humans and continue to infect new people and new areas.

MSF has significantly reduced the number of sleeping sickness cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo through a mobile screening and treatment unit. Barrie Rooney, a laboratory scientist in DRC, talks about our work and the bold challenge MSF has taken on of eliminating the threat from this parasite: Read more.

Photo by Stefan Dold/MSF
Under any circumstances, it’s not an easy task traveling along muddy rainforest tracks by motorbike and crossing swollen rivers by dugout canoe. Now imagine doing it while carrying a refrigerator. This is exactly what UK native and Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) project coordinator Will Turner and his team will be doing for the next month as they mount an expedition to test 40,000 people in remote villages of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for sleeping sickness.
The mission is taking them to the town of Bili, among other places, in the far north of the country. Bili sits in a heavily forested area between the river Uélé and the border with Central African Republic. The area is a global hotspot for sleeping sickness, a disease transmitted by the tsetse fly that is fatal if it’s not treated. Some 85 percent of all sleeping sickness cases are found in DRC, in fact. But the region is so difficult to reach that the problem has long gone ignored.
“We came to the district because it is in the most active focus of sleeping sickness in the world,” says Turner. “Yet this fatal disease is just not tackled here due to insecurity and the remoteness of the area.”
In early April 2013, MSF’s mobile sleeping sickness team installed a laboratory and treatment ward in Bili hospital and began testing local people for the disease. Once the entire population of the town has been tested, the team will turn its focus to about 50 other villages located deep in the surrounding rainforest. People diagnosed with the disease will be referred to the hospital in Bili.
“The team will be on the road for three to four weeks in a row,” says Turner. “Sometimes they will be on motorbikes to make their way along barely accessible paths through the forest. They will move to a new village every day and sleep in tents. By doing this, we expect to find and cure several hundred infected patients.”
Read more: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=6797&cat=field-news

Photo by Stefan Dold/MSF

Under any circumstances, it’s not an easy task traveling along muddy rainforest tracks by motorbike and crossing swollen rivers by dugout canoe. Now imagine doing it while carrying a refrigerator. This is exactly what UK native and Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) project coordinator Will Turner and his team will be doing for the next month as they mount an expedition to test 40,000 people in remote villages of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for sleeping sickness.

The mission is taking them to the town of Bili, among other places, in the far north of the country. Bili sits in a heavily forested area between the river Uélé and the border with Central African Republic. The area is a global hotspot for sleeping sickness, a disease transmitted by the tsetse fly that is fatal if it’s not treated. Some 85 percent of all sleeping sickness cases are found in DRC, in fact. But the region is so difficult to reach that the problem has long gone ignored.

“We came to the district because it is in the most active focus of sleeping sickness in the world,” says Turner. “Yet this fatal disease is just not tackled here due to insecurity and the remoteness of the area.”

In early April 2013, MSF’s mobile sleeping sickness team installed a laboratory and treatment ward in Bili hospital and began testing local people for the disease. Once the entire population of the town has been tested, the team will turn its focus to about 50 other villages located deep in the surrounding rainforest. People diagnosed with the disease will be referred to the hospital in Bili.

“The team will be on the road for three to four weeks in a row,” says Turner. “Sometimes they will be on motorbikes to make their way along barely accessible paths through the forest. They will move to a new village every day and sleep in tents. By doing this, we expect to find and cure several hundred infected patients.”

Read more: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=6797&cat=field-news

Photo: Over the next four weeks, MSF project coordinator Will Turner and his team will mount an expedition to screen 40,000 people for sleeping sickness in remote villages of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
DRC: Through northern Congo with a fridge
Travelling along muddy rainforest tracks by motorbike and crossing swollen rivers by dugout canoe while carrying a refrigerator, a microscope and a generator is no easy task. But this is what MSF project coordinator Will Turner and his team will be doing for the next four weeks. 
Without treatment, sleeping sickess - transmitted by the tsetse fly - is always fatal.

Photo: Over the next four weeks, MSF project coordinator Will Turner and his team will mount an expedition to screen 40,000 people for sleeping sickness in remote villages of the Democratic Republic of Congo.


DRC: Through northern Congo with a fridge

Travelling along muddy rainforest tracks by motorbike and crossing swollen rivers by dugout canoe while carrying a refrigerator, a microscope and a generator is no easy task. But this is what MSF project coordinator Will Turner and his team will be doing for the next four weeks. 

Without treatment, sleeping sickess - transmitted by the tsetse fly - is always fatal.

Meet 2-Year-Old Nyota, a Malaria Survivor in Congo

When she saw that her two-year-old daughter was ill, Nyota’s mother brought her to the MSF clinic in Nyasi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where she was diagnosed with and treated for malaria. Malaria is the leading cause of illness and death in DRC. Last year, MSF treated half a million people in DRC suffering from the deadly disease.

Photo: The sign outside the health center in Pinga, where armed conflict has made provision of care difficult. DRC 2013 © MSF
DRC: Thousands Flee Violence in Pinga, North Kivu
Thousands of people have fled the town of Pinga in recent days amid a new wave of armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s North Kivu Province, making it very difficult to ensure that they receive essential medical care. "Civilians are routinely exposed to this violence—this is the eighth time Pinga has changed hands since 2012," said Jan Peter Stellema, MSF’s operations manager in Goma. "A number of patients had to be transferred for emergency surgery to Goma, among them a 70-year-old woman shot in the arm."

Photo: The sign outside the health center in Pinga, where armed conflict has made provision of care difficult. DRC 2013 © MSF

DRC: Thousands Flee Violence in Pinga, North Kivu

Thousands of people have fled the town of Pinga in recent days amid a new wave of armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s North Kivu Province, making it very difficult to ensure that they receive essential medical care. "Civilians are routinely exposed to this violence—this is the eighth time Pinga has changed hands since 2012," said Jan Peter Stellema, MSF’s operations manager in Goma. "A number of patients had to be transferred for emergency surgery to Goma, among them a 70-year-old woman shot in the arm."

Photo: A child is tested for malaria in Orientale Province. DRC 2012 © Aurelie Lachant/MSF
DRC: Urgent Action Needed to Prevent Malaria Deaths in Orientale Province
An upsurge in malaria is likely to have serious consequences for people in Orientale Province in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) unless immediate action is taken. “Too many health centers lack the supplies necessary for coping with a new outbreak, and this is completely unacceptable,” said Dr. Narcisse Wega, MSF emergency coordinator.

Photo: A child is tested for malaria in Orientale Province. DRC 2012 © Aurelie Lachant/MSF

DRC: Urgent Action Needed to Prevent Malaria Deaths in Orientale Province

An upsurge in malaria is likely to have serious consequences for people in Orientale Province in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) unless immediate action is taken. “Too many health centers lack the supplies necessary for coping with a new outbreak, and this is completely unacceptable,” said Dr. Narcisse Wega, MSF emergency coordinator.

It’s just after midnight in Rutshuru. Tomorrow morning Dr. F, the French anesthetist who arrived here with me, and I leave for Goma. Unfortunately the schedule worked out with me on-call at the hospital and I missed tonight’s farewell party. This morning we had a fairly typical day in the OR, doing 12 procedures between 8am and 1pm including performing a skin graft, placing a traction pin in a patient with a fractured femur, draining a few abscesses, debriding a few wounds plus a handful of dressing changes including two children under the age of three with 2nd degree scald burns over roughly 30% of their bodies plus an eight-month-old who had her foot amputated for an infection two days earlier. I also admitted a 16 year old girl from the ER with chronic osteomyelitis [bone infection] who will need a fairly large operation in the next week or so to remove infected dead bone from her tibia. Chronic osteomyelitis in children is rare in the US but fairly common here in the DRC.
David blogs about his busy last day and says farewell to the Democratic Republic of Congo, for now. Send David some thank you notes and comments or questions below his blog.
I’ve done this job every day for so long that I have come to take it for granted that I will help the patients I see. So it is all the more difficult for me when I come across a patient that I can’t help at all.
US surgeon David Lauter writes about a young man with untreatable cancer and the difference in care between his home country and Democratic Republic of Congo. David is on his second mission with MSF. Please leave your comments for David in the box below his blog post.
Photo: The raining season may close off vehicle access to roads, but MSF staff will find the means to reach their patients in need. DRC 2013 © MSF

Photo: The raining season may close off vehicle access to roads, but MSF staff will find the means to reach their patients in need. DRC 2013 © MSF

Photo: An MSF clinic in Kitchanga, North Kivu. DRC 2009 © Michael Goldfarb
DRC: North Kivu Fighting Damages Health Structures and Displaces Thousands
Amid fighting in the town of Kitchanga in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has caused widespread casualties and damage to health facilities, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is mobilizing medical resources to the affected area, the organization said today. More than 55 civilians have reportedly been killed in the fighting, and 135 people wounded. Shelling also struck St. Benoit Hospital in Kitchanga today, killing two people and wounding eight. Many homes and other buildings have been burned, including the MSF compound. Thousands of civilians have fled. “We call upon all parties to the conflict to respect the neutrality of health structures,” said Hugues Robert, MSF’s head of mission for North Kivu province. “MSF is very concerned about the plight of civilians during intense periods of fighting like this. All parties to the conflict should not harm the population.” Several MSF Congolese staff members were displaced from their homes by the fighting, and widespread panic and fear is gripping the population as tensions between communities in the region escalate. Reaching Kitchanga is extremely difficult. An MSF surgeon, anesthetist, nurse, and emergency logistician arrived by helicopter yesterday to provide additional support to an MSF medical team based in the town. Dressing kits, surgery kits, medicine, plastic sheeting, and tents were also delivered. Several wounded people were also transferred to the North Kivu town of Mweso and to the provincial capital, Goma, for further treatment.

Photo: An MSF clinic in Kitchanga, North Kivu. DRC 2009 © Michael Goldfarb

DRC: North Kivu Fighting Damages Health Structures and Displaces Thousands

Amid fighting in the town of Kitchanga in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has caused widespread casualties and damage to health facilities, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is mobilizing medical resources to the affected area, the organization said today. More than 55 civilians have reportedly been killed in the fighting, and 135 people wounded. Shelling also struck St. Benoit Hospital in Kitchanga today, killing two people and wounding eight. Many homes and other buildings have been burned, including the MSF compound. Thousands of civilians have fled. “We call upon all parties to the conflict to respect the neutrality of health structures,” said Hugues Robert, MSF’s head of mission for North Kivu province. “MSF is very concerned about the plight of civilians during intense periods of fighting like this. All parties to the conflict should not harm the population.” Several MSF Congolese staff members were displaced from their homes by the fighting, and widespread panic and fear is gripping the population as tensions between communities in the region escalate. Reaching Kitchanga is extremely difficult. An MSF surgeon, anesthetist, nurse, and emergency logistician arrived by helicopter yesterday to provide additional support to an MSF medical team based in the town. Dressing kits, surgery kits, medicine, plastic sheeting, and tents were also delivered. Several wounded people were also transferred to the North Kivu town of Mweso and to the provincial capital, Goma, for further treatment.

Photo: If not treated on time, measles-affected children often develop severe medical complications, such as respiratory infections and malnutrition. DRC 2013 © Tristan Pfund/MSF
Measles Continues to Stalk the DRC
This past December, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) issued an alert about a measles epidemic in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s Equateur and Orientale provinces, trying to draw attention to the situation and the lack of resources available to health personnel responding to the emergency. Two months later, however, the measles epidemic is still afflicting tens of thousands of children in the area. The disease is extremely contagious and can spread quickly in countries like DRC that have large gaps in their health care systems. The effects can de devastating. Measles leads to serious medical complications in patients. Mortality can reach up to 15 percent, or even as high as 25 percent in extreme instances. Since March 2012, MSF has treated more than 18,500 patients and vaccinated more than 440,000 children, but it is clear that many more need assistance. “We see lots of small, recently dug graves along the roads,” says Nathalie Gielen, manager of an MSF team returning from Djolu health zone in Equateur. “We counted 35 dead in one village. A father told us that he had lost seven children in three weeks. Traveling from village to village, we hear just one word: measles. People are frightened and hopeless. They’re asking for help.”

Photo: If not treated on time, measles-affected children often develop severe medical complications, such as respiratory infections and malnutrition. DRC 2013 © Tristan Pfund/MSF

Measles Continues to Stalk the DRC

This past December, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) issued an alert about a measles epidemic in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s Equateur and Orientale provinces, trying to draw attention to the situation and the lack of resources available to health personnel responding to the emergency. Two months later, however, the measles epidemic is still afflicting tens of thousands of children in the area. The disease is extremely contagious and can spread quickly in countries like DRC that have large gaps in their health care systems. The effects can de devastating. Measles leads to serious medical complications in patients. Mortality can reach up to 15 percent, or even as high as 25 percent in extreme instances. Since March 2012, MSF has treated more than 18,500 patients and vaccinated more than 440,000 children, but it is clear that many more need assistance. “We see lots of small, recently dug graves along the roads,” says Nathalie Gielen, manager of an MSF team returning from Djolu health zone in Equateur. “We counted 35 dead in one village. A father told us that he had lost seven children in three weeks. Traveling from village to village, we hear just one word: measles. People are frightened and hopeless. They’re asking for help.”

Photo: MSF doctor Susanna Ericsson examines a young patient. DRC 2013 © MSF
Letter from Shamwana, Democratic Republic of Congo
MSF doctor,Susanna Ericsson works in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where ongoing fighting between government forces and Mai-Mai militias in Katanga province has forced thousands of people to flee into the surrounding bush fearing for their lives. Here, Dr. Ericsson describes the experience of one such patient.
Our patient arrived early in the morning the day after we removed all non-essential staff from the project. She was the first person to be taken care of by our emergency “skeleton” team.
She was 23 years old, and came from a small village called Kilenge that has no health care facilities at all. The village is 25 kilometers [about 15 miles] from Kafumbe, where there is a small health post. There has not been anybody working at the health post for a long time because of the fighting and because there is a lack of health personnel and medicines in this region.
The patient had started getting abdominal pains at home, and got worried as she was already late in her pregnancy. She went over to her mother’s house and a traditional birthing attendant and a traditional healer were called for. For three days this woman drank concoctions of different herbs and the traditional healer gave her some physical exercises to do to get the baby out.
On the fourth day, the baby still hadn’t been born and her family was very worried as she had developed fever, smelled very bad, and the pain was worse than ever. At 3:00 am that morning the family set out for Shamwana where MSF runs a hospital offering free medical care to all.
It took the family 48 hours to reach MSF’s hospital on foot. The patient was transported on a bicycle, and 10 men and 4 women came along as protection, since the roads are not safe, and they were worried about an ambush.
Upon arrival at the hospital in Shamwana the patient immediately went into emergency surgery. A serious infection had already spread though her body and her baby had died. There is no doubt that without the surgery provided by MSF, the woman would not have survived. 

Photo: MSF doctor Susanna Ericsson examines a young patient. DRC 2013 © MSF

Letter from Shamwana, Democratic Republic of Congo

MSF doctor,Susanna Ericsson works in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where ongoing fighting between government forces and Mai-Mai militias in Katanga province has forced thousands of people to flee into the surrounding bush fearing for their lives. Here, Dr. Ericsson describes the experience of one such patient.

Our patient arrived early in the morning the day after we removed all non-essential staff from the project. She was the first person to be taken care of by our emergency “skeleton” team.

She was 23 years old, and came from a small village called Kilenge that has no health care facilities at all. The village is 25 kilometers [about 15 miles] from Kafumbe, where there is a small health post. There has not been anybody working at the health post for a long time because of the fighting and because there is a lack of health personnel and medicines in this region.

The patient had started getting abdominal pains at home, and got worried as she was already late in her pregnancy. She went over to her mother’s house and a traditional birthing attendant and a traditional healer were called for. For three days this woman drank concoctions of different herbs and the traditional healer gave her some physical exercises to do to get the baby out.

On the fourth day, the baby still hadn’t been born and her family was very worried as she had developed fever, smelled very bad, and the pain was worse than ever. At 3:00 am that morning the family set out for Shamwana where MSF runs a hospital offering free medical care to all.

It took the family 48 hours to reach MSF’s hospital on foot. The patient was transported on a bicycle, and 10 men and 4 women came along as protection, since the roads are not safe, and they were worried about an ambush.

Upon arrival at the hospital in Shamwana the patient immediately went into emergency surgery. A serious infection had already spread though her body and her baby had died. There is no doubt that without the surgery provided by MSF, the woman would not have survived.