Posts tagged Democratic Republic of Congo

MSF health workers are seeing a 250 percent increase in the number of patients with malaria over the last three years in Democratic Republic of Congo and are now responding to outbreaks in six provinces.

As the sun went down and the ridges of the Mitumba mountains turned a smoke blue, a line of mothers sat quietly on a wooden bench in front of the nurses’ station in the pediatric tent. The children lying prostrate in their laps were new admissions, too weak to protest against the nurses, who wore miner’s headlamps to help search for a vein to place a drip.

Chris Bird, a former Reuters and Guardian reporter, put down his notepad and left more than 10 years of news reporting to study medicine with the intention of returning to the front lines where he can be hands-on saving lives and alleviating the kind of suffering he once wrote about.

Here he talks about18-month-old Bahati’s struggle to survive severe malaria.

DRC: A Fashion Show Featuring Women Living with HIV

This past March was designated women’s month in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In order to close it out on a high note, Doctors Without Borders teams in DRC did something a little unusual. Along with Médecins du Monde and the Réseau National Des Organisations d’Assise Communautaires des PVV (the RNOAC, a national network of community-based organizations that assists people with HIV/AIDS), they organized a fashion show on March 30 that featured 12 women living with HIV/AIDS. The goal was threefold: to fight discrimination against people living with HIV, to alert the public to the tragic lack of access to treatment in the country, and to show what is possible when treatment is made available.

The fashion show was designed to send the message that with proper treatment, people with HIV/AIDS can live a normal life and even flourish.

In front of a supportive, cheering audience, the women walked with poise and dignity, pausing at the end of the runway to deliver short messages in proud, confident voices.

“Do I look ill to you?” one woman said.

“I’ve been living with HIV for 14 years and I’m doing great, thanks to ARVs!” another announced.

“I’ve broken the silence,” said a third. “Now it’s up to you to make my voice heard!” Photo: DRC 2012 © MSF
Women living with HIV walk in the March 30 fashion show in Kinshasa.

DRC: A Fashion Show Featuring Women Living with HIV

This past March was designated women’s month in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In order to close it out on a high note, Doctors Without Borders teams in DRC did something a little unusual. Along with Médecins du Monde and the Réseau National Des Organisations d’Assise Communautaires des PVV (the RNOAC, a national network of community-based organizations that assists people with HIV/AIDS), they organized a fashion show on March 30 that featured 12 women living with HIV/AIDS. The goal was threefold: to fight discrimination against people living with HIV, to alert the public to the tragic lack of access to treatment in the country, and to show what is possible when treatment is made available.

The fashion show was designed to send the message that with proper treatment, people with HIV/AIDS can live a normal life and even flourish.

In front of a supportive, cheering audience, the women walked with poise and dignity, pausing at the end of the runway to deliver short messages in proud, confident voices.

“Do I look ill to you?” one woman said.

“I’ve been living with HIV for 14 years and I’m doing great, thanks to ARVs!” another announced.

“I’ve broken the silence,” said a third. “Now it’s up to you to make my voice heard!”

Photo: DRC 2012 © MSF
Women living with HIV walk in the March 30 fashion show in Kinshasa.

DRC: An Alarming Surge in Malaria

MSF has recorded a three-fold increase in patients with malaria in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 2009. MSF teams are seeing alarming numbers of malaria patients this year as well, and have launched an emergency response.

MSF Condemns Armed Robbery, Aid Worker Intimidation at MSF Compound in Eastern DRC

The attack was one of a several incidents including a kidnapping (and subsequent release) that have threatened the safety of the organization’s staff and patients in the last week.
	On April 4, armed and uniformed men broke through the fence surrounding the MSF compound in Baraka in the province of South Kivu, where MSF supports a hospital and several health centers. No staff were injured in the attack. Medical services continue with a reduced number of international staff.

	“MSF is providing urgently needed health care to people living in eastern DRC,” said MSF’s Operations Manager Katrien Coppens. “But in order for us to continue providing essential medical services, there has to be a minimum of respect for the safety and security of those carrying out humanitarian aid work.”Photo: DRC 2010 © MSF

MSF Condemns Armed Robbery, Aid Worker Intimidation at MSF Compound in Eastern DRC

The attack was one of a several incidents including a kidnapping (and subsequent release) that have threatened the safety of the organization’s staff and patients in the last week.

On April 4, armed and uniformed men broke through the fence surrounding the MSF compound in Baraka in the province of South Kivu, where MSF supports a hospital and several health centers. No staff were injured in the attack. Medical services continue with a reduced number of international staff.

“MSF is providing urgently needed health care to people living in eastern DRC,” said MSF’s Operations Manager Katrien Coppens. “But in order for us to continue providing essential medical services, there has to be a minimum of respect for the safety and security of those carrying out humanitarian aid work.”

Photo: DRC 2010 © MSF

Two MSF Staff Members Kidnapped Then Released in DRC

On the morning of Wednesday, April 4, two MSF staff members—Cedric, a nurse, and Marius, a logistician—were kidnapped near Nyanzale in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo while traveling by car.

	Hours later, they were released unharmed.

	Given the seriousness of this incident, MSF evacuated its teams working in the Nyanzale hospital and in two health centers in the area.

	MSF is therefore suspending some of its activities in North Kivu pending a full review of MSF’s work and practices in light of the deteriorating security situation in the province, which is having a profound impact on the population and on the ability of relief organizations to deliver humanitarian assistance.  Photo:DRC © MSF
Rutshuru general hospital in North Kivu

Two MSF Staff Members Kidnapped Then Released in DRC

On the morning of Wednesday, April 4, two MSF staff members—Cedric, a nurse, and Marius, a logistician—were kidnapped near Nyanzale in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo while traveling by car.

Hours later, they were released unharmed.

Given the seriousness of this incident, MSF evacuated its teams working in the Nyanzale hospital and in two health centers in the area.

MSF is therefore suspending some of its activities in North Kivu pending a full review of MSF’s work and practices in light of the deteriorating security situation in the province, which is having a profound impact on the population and on the ability of relief organizations to deliver humanitarian assistance.  

Photo:DRC © MSF
Rutshuru general hospital in North Kivu

Complicated delivery

Our journey back to Kitchanga was difficult. On the morning of our departure, we received a 17 year old girl, Nina, at our health center in Kivuye. Nina was pregnant and her contractions had started the night before. Unfortunately, the baby’s head was in an occipito-transverse position and the labour was failing to progress. This means that the baby’s head was stuck in the pelvis. The road conditions were bad…We finally arrived after a 3 hour drive. We were received by one of obstetricians, Dr Marie-Josee. Nina was swiftly wheeled into the delivery room. The baby’s head was just visible. The ventouse was tried three times without success. Just before we decided to go for a caesarean section, Nina pushed for the final time. A midwife quickly clambered onto some steps and applied fundal pressure, pressing hard as Nina grunted and cried out. All of a sudden, a little baby girl popped out. She was blue and the cord was around her neck. After brief but intense stimulation, we heard the welcome sound of a baby’s cry.

Nina is now doing ok but both mother and baby are still in hospital. She is actually one of the lucky ones… Happy stories like Nina give us just enough hope to smile and square up to another day.

Xx
Angie


Angeline Wee is a Family Physician working in Kitchanga in the North Kivu province of Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. This is her second mission with MSF.

Complicated delivery

Our journey back to Kitchanga was difficult. On the morning of our departure, we received a 17 year old girl, Nina, at our health center in Kivuye. Nina was pregnant and her contractions had started the night before. Unfortunately, the baby’s head was in an occipito-transverse position and the labour was failing to progress. This means that the baby’s head was stuck in the pelvis. The road conditions were bad…

We finally arrived after a 3 hour drive. We were received by one of obstetricians, Dr Marie-Josee. Nina was swiftly wheeled into the delivery room. The baby’s head was just visible. The ventouse was tried three times without success. Just before we decided to go for a caesarean section, Nina pushed for the final time. A midwife quickly clambered onto some steps and applied fundal pressure, pressing hard as Nina grunted and cried out. All of a sudden, a little baby girl popped out. She was blue and the cord was around her neck. After brief but intense stimulation, we heard the welcome sound of a baby’s cry.

Nina is now doing ok but both mother and baby are still in hospital. She is actually one of the lucky ones… Happy stories like Nina give us just enough hope to smile and square up to another day.

Xx
Angie Angeline Wee is a Family Physician working in Kitchanga in the North Kivu province of Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. This is her second mission with MSF.

DRC: MSF Launches Massive Malaria Response Across Three Provinces

Several regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are facing a serious outbreak of malaria. MSF teams are working in three provinces, supporting the Congolese Ministry of Health. So far, MSF has treated more than 17,000 people in Maniema, Equateur, and Orientale provinces.In DRC, malaria is the leading cause of death. Every year the mosquito-borne disease kills 180,000 children under five.

“To contain the disease, a purely preventative approach such as mosquito net distribution is not enough. We must also treat as many people as possible,” said Dr. Jorgen Stassijn, a malaria specialist and member of the MSF team currently working in Equateur Province.DRC 2011 © Ben Milpas
Mothers feed their children beneath mosquito netting in an MSF facility

DRC: MSF Launches Massive Malaria Response Across Three Provinces

Several regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are facing a serious outbreak of malaria. MSF teams are working in three provinces, supporting the Congolese Ministry of Health. So far, MSF has treated more than 17,000 people in Maniema, Equateur, and Orientale provinces.

In DRC, malaria is the leading cause of death. Every year the mosquito-borne disease kills 180,000 children under five.

“To contain the disease, a purely preventative approach such as mosquito net distribution is not enough. We must also treat as many people as possible,” said Dr. Jorgen Stassijn, a malaria specialist and member of the MSF team currently working in Equateur Province.

DRC 2011 © Ben Milpas
Mothers feed their children beneath mosquito netting in an MSF facility

MSF Blogs: The Flying Creatures I Sleep With

Chris Bird, a former Reuters and Guardian reporter, put down his notepad and left more than 10 years of news reporting to study medicine with the intention of returning to the front lines where he can be hands-on saving lives and alleviating the kind of suffering he once wrote about.Here he talks about his living situation in Democratic Republic of Congo while working in the field:

We’ve taken over a compound from another aid agency as a temporary MSF base. “Compound,” however, is probably too grand a term for the small single-story building of mud, riddled with termite holes, its bare wooden beams roofed with corrugated iron and surrounded by a flimsy stockade of bamboo.
The strong smell of ammonia pervades the building as it hosts a thriving colony of bats. They’re quiet during the day but, as I turn in, they start to scratch, screech, and shuffle about after returning from sorties to feast on the copious and diverse clouds of insects that race like electrons around the bare bulbs run by a noisy diesel generator at night.

Having learned of a possible association between bats and the dreaded viral hemorrhagic fever, Ebola, I was not happy to find two of them, wings folded, clinging upside down to the mosquito net over my bed. The net is often covered with tiny black pellets each morning—bat poo.


Read his previous blog post here.Photo: DRC 2011 © Frank Rammeloo/MSF
Lulimba Hospital, in the Kimbi Lulenge health zone in South Kivu.

MSF Blogs: The Flying Creatures I Sleep With

Chris Bird, a former Reuters and Guardian reporter, put down his notepad and left more than 10 years of news reporting to study medicine with the intention of returning to the front lines where he can be hands-on saving lives and alleviating the kind of suffering he once wrote about.

Here he talks about his living situation in Democratic Republic of Congo while working in the field:

We’ve taken over a compound from another aid agency as a temporary MSF base. “Compound,” however, is probably too grand a term for the small single-story building of mud, riddled with termite holes, its bare wooden beams roofed with corrugated iron and surrounded by a flimsy stockade of bamboo.

The strong smell of ammonia pervades the building as it hosts a thriving colony of bats. They’re quiet during the day but, as I turn in, they start to scratch, screech, and shuffle about after returning from sorties to feast on the copious and diverse clouds of insects that race like electrons around the bare bulbs run by a noisy diesel generator at night.

Having learned of a possible association between bats and the dreaded viral hemorrhagic fever, Ebola, I was not happy to find two of them, wings folded, clinging upside down to the mosquito net over my bed. The net is often covered with tiny black pellets each morning—bat poo.

Read his previous blog post here.

Photo: DRC 2011 © Frank Rammeloo/MSF Lulimba Hospital, in the Kimbi Lulenge health zone in South Kivu.

DRC: “I Got on the Motorbike With the Midwife”

Doctors Without Borders makes it a priority to provide life-saving, emergency obstetric care in both acute and chronic humanitarian crises. Fifteen percent of all pregnancies worldwide will experience a life-threatening complication. The most critical moment is delivery: the majority of maternal deaths occur just before, during, or just after delivery, often from complications that cannot be predicted. It is at this point that the provision of quality obstetric care is vital to save women’s lives. The majority of maternal deaths are avoidable when access to emergency obstetric care is ensured.

View MSF’s International Women’s Day video on Haiti.

View the International Women’s Day video on South Sudan.

View MSF’s International Women’s Day video on Pakistan.

An MSF staff member takes a break to play with children during MSF’s emergency response to a raging measles epidemic in remote Maniema Province, Democratic Republic of Congo. Staff used canoes, motorcycles, and cars to reach the affected population at 12 sites. By May 20, 2011 MSF had treated more than 2,000 patients; 250 required hospitalization. 

Photo : 2011 © Laetitia Legrand/MSF

An MSF staff member takes a break to play with children during MSF’s emergency response to a raging measles epidemic in remote Maniema Province, Democratic Republic of Congo. Staff used canoes, motorcycles, and cars to reach the affected population at 12 sites. By May 20, 2011 MSF had treated more than 2,000 patients; 250 required hospitalization.


Photo : 2011 © Laetitia Legrand/MSF

People are waiting for us!

“We are on our way in the direction of Musonjo, a long line of porters moving slowly through a palette of different greens in an almost snakelike motion. Every small but determined step reduces the distance to our goal for the day; a thought that always makes me smile…

Time to get moving again. Rain… What is rain other than falling drops of water, touching our bodies and soaking our clothes? A human body consists of a minimum of 70% water, so what are a couple of drops more? Just keep on moving. People are waiting for us!”Check out Ferry Schippers’ blog from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Photo: © MSF Ferry Schippers

People are waiting for us!

“We are on our way in the direction of Musonjo, a long line of porters moving slowly through a palette of different greens in an almost snakelike motion. Every small but determined step reduces the distance to our goal for the day; a thought that always makes me smile… Time to get moving again. Rain… What is rain other than falling drops of water, touching our bodies and soaking our clothes? A human body consists of a minimum of 70% water, so what are a couple of drops more? Just keep on moving. People are waiting for us!”

Check out Ferry Schippers’ blog from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Photo: © MSF Ferry Schippers

MSF Blogs: The Silent Cost of Child Malnutrition in DRC

Just as I was about to leave for the day, Steve, one of the nurses, asked me if I could see this one case before going. Beatrice (not her real name) was two years and seven months old when she arrived in our pediatric hospital tent in Kimbi Lulenge, South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A quick glance at the prostrate child in the dim circle of light cast by the tent’s single bulb and I guessed she was another malaria case. Steve shook his head. “Non, docteur. C’est un nouveau cas de malnutrition” (“No, doctor. This is a new malnutrition case”).

I quickly felt the child’s feet—icy cold. A careful look at Beatrice showed that all the curves and dimples of a healthy child’s face had shrunk, leaving the forbidding lines of a woodblock print. Beatrice was alert, but silent, which formed an ominous void amid the children crying in the rest of the tent. There was a glint of anxiety in her rheumy eyes that grew dimmer as she seemed to fall into it.

I gently pulled back the cotton wrap. The malnutrition had ravaged her skin, causing it to flake off, leaving behind weeping sores across her arms, legs and chest. There was no healthy protest when a drip was placed in her arm.

The nursing staff went into action. They gave her glucose to prevent low blood sugar, antibiotics through the drip to fight off infection; they advised her mother to keep her warm, as hypothermia takes the lives of many of these children at night. Careful fluid management and gentle refeeding was started: give too little and the child will succumb to dehydration and shock; too much and the child will die of heart failure.

Treating a malnourished child is complex. It is not simply a matter of doling out cups of milk and packets of peanut paste when a child like Beatrice finds her way into our tent, tied to her mother’s back after she has walked a day to get to our hospital or, if she’s lucky, on the back of a relative’s motorbike along the treacherous dirt roads.

Read the rest of Chris Bird’s Blog entry from the field.

MSF Blogs: The Silent Cost of Child Malnutrition in DRC

Just as I was about to leave for the day, Steve, one of the nurses, asked me if I could see this one case before going. Beatrice (not her real name) was two years and seven months old when she arrived in our pediatric hospital tent in Kimbi Lulenge, South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A quick glance at the prostrate child in the dim circle of light cast by the tent’s single bulb and I guessed she was another malaria case. Steve shook his head. “Non, docteur. C’est un nouveau cas de malnutrition” (“No, doctor. This is a new malnutrition case”).

I quickly felt the child’s feet—icy cold. A careful look at Beatrice showed that all the curves and dimples of a healthy child’s face had shrunk, leaving the forbidding lines of a woodblock print. Beatrice was alert, but silent, which formed an ominous void amid the children crying in the rest of the tent. There was a glint of anxiety in her rheumy eyes that grew dimmer as she seemed to fall into it.

I gently pulled back the cotton wrap. The malnutrition had ravaged her skin, causing it to flake off, leaving behind weeping sores across her arms, legs and chest. There was no healthy protest when a drip was placed in her arm.

The nursing staff went into action. They gave her glucose to prevent low blood sugar, antibiotics through the drip to fight off infection; they advised her mother to keep her warm, as hypothermia takes the lives of many of these children at night. Careful fluid management and gentle refeeding was started: give too little and the child will succumb to dehydration and shock; too much and the child will die of heart failure.

Treating a malnourished child is complex. It is not simply a matter of doling out cups of milk and packets of peanut paste when a child like Beatrice finds her way into our tent, tied to her mother’s back after she has walked a day to get to our hospital or, if she’s lucky, on the back of a relative’s motorbike along the treacherous dirt roads.

Read the rest of Chris Bird’s Blog entry from the field.

DRC: “At Night, the Stories … Come Back to Haunt Me”

Baraka, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—“I [MSF nurse Alice Echumbe] am the supervisor of the Jamaa Letu center, which in Swahili means “Our family.” MSF opened this center in May 2011 to offer additional community services, especially to pregnant women who need to be close to the hospital just before birth to avoid a long travel from their villages. 

The center also welcomes patients who want a more private and confidential setting for their consultations in family planning, voluntary HIV/AIDS testing (especially for pregnant women), treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and treatment for survivors of sexual violence. These survivors are not only women but [also] men and even children, some of them less than five years old.

I am a nurse by training and have worked for MSF since 2009, previously at MSF’s Baraka Hospital. I have done outreach work with mobile health teams, traveling to remote villages to raise awareness about health issues such as cholera, malnutrition, and TB. 

What our teams notice in the villages is that people often go to traditional healers when they are sick—for example if a child has malaria, one of the most common illnesses. But traditional medicine can sometimes lead to serious complications and can put patients at risk of dying, especially if they cannot get to a hospital in time. So we explain to the community and to traditional healers to recognize when it is necessary to seek help and send their patients to a health center. 

We also try to convince pregnant women to go to the rural health center or a hospital to give birth because those places have a skilled birth attendant, equipment, and drugs. 

Photo: DRC 2011 © Claudia Blume/MSF

DRC: “At Night, the Stories … Come Back to Haunt Me”

Baraka, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—“I [MSF nurse Alice Echumbe] am the supervisor of the Jamaa Letu center, which in Swahili means “Our family.” MSF opened this center in May 2011 to offer additional community services, especially to pregnant women who need to be close to the hospital just before birth to avoid a long travel from their villages.

The center also welcomes patients who want a more private and confidential setting for their consultations in family planning, voluntary HIV/AIDS testing (especially for pregnant women), treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and treatment for survivors of sexual violence. These survivors are not only women but [also] men and even children, some of them less than five years old.

I am a nurse by training and have worked for MSF since 2009, previously at MSF’s Baraka Hospital. I have done outreach work with mobile health teams, traveling to remote villages to raise awareness about health issues such as cholera, malnutrition, and TB.

What our teams notice in the villages is that people often go to traditional healers when they are sick—for example if a child has malaria, one of the most common illnesses. But traditional medicine can sometimes lead to serious complications and can put patients at risk of dying, especially if they cannot get to a hospital in time. So we explain to the community and to traditional healers to recognize when it is necessary to seek help and send their patients to a health center.

We also try to convince pregnant women to go to the rural health center or a hospital to give birth because those places have a skilled birth attendant, equipment, and drugs.

Photo: DRC 2011 © Claudia Blume/MSF

"I’m heading for Lulimba, a small, remote town in eastern DRC. It’s about 186 miles (300 kilometers) from Bukavu but the journey takes two days in a four-wheel drive vehicle. You can’t fly in as the dirt airstrip, originally cleared by a long abandoned church mission, is reported as uneven and potholed. The jolts along the red-dirt tracks, river crossings full of children splashing about (I wonder how many of them carry the worms of schistosomiasis), and short exchanges with armed men en route make it impossible to study the French grammar book open on my lap."

- Chris Bird, MSF doctor in the Democratic Repulic of Congo. Read more from his blog about his first assignment with MSF in the hospital in Kimbi Lulenge health zone in Lulimba, a small town in South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Photo: DRC 2012 © Stella Evangelidou

"I’m heading for Lulimba, a small, remote town in eastern DRC. It’s about 186 miles (300 kilometers) from Bukavu but the journey takes two days in a four-wheel drive vehicle. You can’t fly in as the dirt airstrip, originally cleared by a long abandoned church mission, is reported as uneven and potholed. The jolts along the red-dirt tracks, river crossings full of children splashing about (I wonder how many of them carry the worms of schistosomiasis), and short exchanges with armed men en route make it impossible to study the French grammar book open on my lap."

- Chris Bird, MSF doctor in the Democratic Repulic of Congo. Read more from his blog about his first assignment with MSF in the hospital in Kimbi Lulenge health zone in Lulimba, a small town in South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Photo: DRC 2012 © Stella Evangelidou