Congo Cholera outbreak in Betou - DREF operation n° MDRCG010 Final Report

Summary: CHF 60,045 was allocated from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 17 February, 2012 to support the Congolese Red Cross National Society in delivering assistance to some 59,120 refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and about 40,000 host populations i.e. an estimated 99,1 Red Cross volunteer facilitates a cholera sensitization session in Betou using leaflets and posters produced.

As the National Society was preparing to round up response to a previous cholera outbreak affecting Brazzaville, Likouala, Sangha, Cuvette, Plateaux and Pool divisions in Republic of Congo (RoC), a new cholera outbreak occurred in Betou, a locality where about 59,000 DRC refugees are being assisted by Congolese Red Cross and IFRC since 2009. A total of 355 cases of cholera infection were recorded and 5 persons succumbed to the disease. To respond to the epidemic, the Congolese Red Cross (CRC) launched a DREF operation with support from the IFRC’s Central Africa Regional Representation (CARREP).

With the DREF funds allocated, the National Society trained 60 volunteers and 10 ‘hygiene mothers.’ By end of operation the trained volunteers sensitized 45,131 people on how to prevent cholera, treat water at home and keep the household environment clean. In addition, 1,584 affected persons received bars of soap for personal hygiene and 6,000 litres of chlorine solution were distributed for purposes of disinfection and disposal of corpses.

The DREF operation was part of a larger coordinated effort involving other actors. Médecins d’Afrique (MDA)and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) France provided curative care, while Agende d’Assistance pour le Rapatriement des Réfugiés au Congo (AARREC) disinfected 287 water wells tested and recommended for disinfection by the Red Cross. UNICEF also carried out sensitization and disinfection activities using agents that were trained by Red Cross staff in Betou.

Reports from the operation indicated that the number of cases were at their highest at the beginning of March 2012 when more than 300 cases were reported in Likouala Division. A decrease was recorded by the end of the month with only 22 cases registered in Betou and managed at the Betou health centre.

Significant progress was recorded by the end of the operation in May through to June 2012 when no new cases were registered. This was attributed to the continuous and sustained hygiene awareness and sensitization sessions by the trained Red Cross volunteers and related interventions by collaborating partners. Since June 2012, Red Cross volunteers and other partners in Betou continue to conduct epidemiological surveillance and cholera prevention sensitizations.

A small unspent balance of CHF 61 will be returned to the DREF. The major donors and partners of DREF include the Australian, American and Belgian governments, the Austrian Red Cross, the Canadian Red Cross and government, Danish Red Cross and government, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), the Irish and the Italian governments, the Japanese Red Cross Society, the Luxembourg government, the Monaco Red Cross and government, the Netherlands Red Cross and government, the Norwegian Red Cross and government, the Spanish Government, the Swedish Red Cross and government, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the Medtronic and Z Zurich Foundations, and other corporate and private donors. The IFRC, on behalf of the National Society, would like to extend thanks to all for their generous contributions.