DR Congo

IRC Emergency Team In Kisangani Suspects Cholera Outbreak

News and Press Release
Originally published
New York, 27 Jul 2000 - The IRC's Emergency Response Team, led by emergency coordinator Diane Johnson and medical coordinator Robin Nandy, is in place in Kisangani, in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The team has conducted a health assessment in the Lubunga zone of Kisangani and is providing medicine and training for local staff at a hospital and three health centers. Nandy says the team is also responding to what may be the beginning of a cholera outbreak in two of the health centers. He identified cholera in five patients and recorded two recent cholera-related deaths. He says he's also observed over 20 cases of acute diarrhea and five related deaths. The IRC is working with Doctors Without Borders to supply local clinics with rehydration fluids. They are also preparing for the disinfections of households and clinics in the affected areas and distributing World Health Organization cholera guidelines. The IRC is also conducting a public health assessment and is preparing for limited water and sanitation projects, including rain-catchment and bathing facilities.
It has been a month since a truce agreement brought an end to most recent fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces in the Kisangani area. Still, the region remains unstable and indiscriminate clashes continue. The IRC and other NGOs are operating under a lengthy curfew, making it difficult to come to the aid of 30,000 displaced people and thousands more vulnerable residents in an around Kisangani. In a report to IRC headquarters, Johnson said, "Civilians are being subjected to military intimidation and looting. IDPs are scared to return home, fearing the military and afraid that their houses have been destroyed. In general, the plight of IDPs is not much worse than that of other citizens. Most have been integrated into host families. About 3,000 are residing in Katele Camp, and the population there is expanding regularly. Many others are hiding in the bush. Food is scarce and extremely expensive. Basic household items are not available and medicines are provided only through international assistance. Some schools and health clinics remain open, although most health care workers and teachers have not been paid in over a year."

Media inquiries can be made to:

Melissa Winkler, director of communications
tel. (212) 551-0972 or Melissa@theIRC.org

© The IRC 1993-2000