DR Congo

Italy increases support to WHO health relief in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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6 November, 2008 =A6 GOMA/GENEVA -- The Government of Italy has informed the World Health Organization that it is increasing its humanitarian support for health action in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by providing additional supplies that now allow to treat up to 180 000 people affected by the ongoing insecurity.

Some 31 tonnes of medicines and other desperately needed health supplies are to be flown from Italy into the African country's volatile east where hundreds of thousands have been affected by armed conflict and limited - or no - access to health services.

The increasing scale of the crisis, in which some 2.5 million either displaced or locals in North and South Kivu have been affected, demands increasing international support to provide vital health services. The Italian supplies are for treating multiple conditions, including diarrhoeal diseases, malaria and trauma such as gunshot wounds.

The World Health Organization, with the support of the World Food Programme, intends to fly the Italian-donated supplies, as well as a separate large consignment of medicines donated by Norwegian authorities, into countries to the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From there the materials will be trucked into areas such as Goma, where health facilities in towns and camps for internally displaced people have been looted and destroyed.

"The Italian and Norwegian contributions will help save thousands of lives by providing essential medicines that are sorely lacking in the conflict-affected area," said Dr Alessandro Loretti, acting Assistant Director-General for WHO's Health Action in Crises Cluster.

For further information or interviews contact:

Paul Garwood
Communications Officer
WHO, Health Action in Crises, Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 3462
Mobile: +41 794 755546
E-mail: garwoodp@who.int