Health Emergency Highlights, February 2013
Prolonged instability, conflict and chronic emergencies in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have had a significant impact on the health of displaced and vulnerable populations throughout the country. Heavy fighting in January 2013 caused massive population displacement in Punia (eastern DRC), causing the deterioration of the humanitarian situation. OCHA reports that nearly a third of the population of Punia (a town with 53 000 inhabitants) fled to the forest or other areas around the town. An inter‐cluster assessment mission was conducted from 7 to 14 February 2013.
In the Katanga region, according to UN estimates, violent clashes have led to the displacement of more than 300 000 people (beginning December 2012 – end February 2013) .
The affected population is having difficulties in accessing water, health care and basic services, which puts thousands of people at risk of disease outbreaks. There was a major increase in epidemics across the whole country in 2012, including measles, cholera and viral hemorrhagic fevers among others.
While cholera cases have decreased in the western provinces, eastern provinces are experiencing a resurgence of cholera cases since July 2012. Triggering factors include the lack of latrines and clean water sources and renewed violence. Over the course of 2012,DRC registered 30 753 cases of cholera with 709 deaths.
For the first eight weeks of 2013, 6954 cases of cholera were reported across the country with 166 deaths – 97% of these cases are concentrated in eastern DRC.
In Katanga, (1 Jan. – 27 Feb.), there have been 4326 cases of cholera, 145 deaths ‐ 61% of the country’s cholera cases were reported from Katanga.