Spread of cholera in the Kasai region (DRC): the Ministry of Health takes action to the next level

Kinshasa, November 12, 2017 - On his return from a mission to Mozambique and South Africa, the Minister of Health, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, convened an emergency meeting on the cholera situation following recent outbreaks of the disease in the Greater Kasai region on Saturday, November 11, 2017.
Press release published by the DRC Ministry of Healt

During week 44 (October 30 to November 5, 2017), suspected cases of cholera were identified in 72 health zones across the country. The teams of the National Program for the Elimination of Cholera and Control of Other Diarrhoeal Diseases (PNECHOL-MD) reported 2,001 cases, of which 600 were in Kasaï. Of the seven new health zones affected, six are also in this region.

PNECHOL-MD teams feared the arrival of cholera in this fragile region of the country because of the lack of appropriate healthcare facilities and difficult access to the region. They had already rung the first alarm bell on August 23.
Professor Didier Bompangue, Coordinator of PNECHOL-MD, presented a new comprehensive cholera response plan focused on decentralizing national coordination to the nine most affected provinces of the country and improving coordination of all actors in the field.
"It is no longer time for discussion but for action. We are talking about preventable loss of life here. It is our duty to implement rapid response mechanisms to avoid reliving the 1994 disaster in Goma", said Professor Bompangue. As a reminder, 58,057 people died during the Great Cholera Epidemic of 1994, 12,000 of whom died in the first week of the epidemic.
In a passionate plea, he lamented the lack of responsiveness and the ineffectiveness of some parties and urged them to review their working methods to improve their effectiveness. He said that so far, only the WHO and the Congolese and Chinese governments had provided funds to the PNECHOL-MD’s teams of healthcare professionals deployed in the field.
Given the urgency and following the information received, six tons of inputs were dispatched to the three largest outbreak sites in the Kasai region (Ngandajika, Mwene Ditu, and Luisa) last Sunday morning. A team of experts also arrived in Ngandajika with 4,000 liters of Ringer's solution today.  

The Minister of Health ended the meeting by saying that the immediate urgency is to improve the coordination of all actors and actions in the field. As he recalled, a decentralized army, without central coordination, cannot win a battle of this magnitude.
He therefore asked the various parties related to the Ministry of Health as well as the partners present to establish a detailed mapping of ongoing actions to clearly identify any gaps and organize a more effective and coordinated response.

This Cholera Crisis Committee's next meeting will be on next Tuesday, November 14, 2017.

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  Since January 2017, 43,852 suspected cases and 871 deaths have been reported, representing a fatality rate of 1.9%. In addition, at least one case of cholera has been identified in 21 of DRC's 26 provinces and 200 of the 515 health zones have been affected at least once. The cholera epidemic was declared in July 2017 when the critical threshold of 1% fatality rate was exceeded.
Press contact: Jessica Ilunga
+243 820 307 872 - [email protected]