Hundreds dead in worst DRC cholera crisis in years


Cholera in DRC

from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
DRC Bureau
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – SOME 230 people, most of them children, have died this year as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) suffers its worst cholera outbreak in six years.

The scourge, reported from 31 342 cases, is blamed on the spike in conflict and displacement in the volatile eastern parts of the country.

This is over six times as many cases as in all of 2022.

The worst affected province, North Kivu, has seen more than 21 400 confirmed or suspected cases, including more than 8 000 children under 5 years, according to the Ministry of Public Health. This compares to 5 120 total cases in all of 2022, with 1 200 for children aged under five years.

“The size of the cholera outbreak and the devastation it threatens should ring alarm bells,” said Shameza Abdulla, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) DRC Senior Emergency Coordinator.

The envoy warned that if urgent action was not taken within the next months, there is a significant risk that the disease will spread to parts of the country that have not been affected for many years.

“There is also the danger that it will continue to spread in displacement sites where systems are already overwhelmed and the population – especially children – is highly vulnerable to illness and – potentially – death. Displaced families have already been through so much.”

In a similar situation in 2017, cholera expanded to the entire country, including the capital city, Kinshasa, leading to almost 55 000 cases and more than 1 100 deaths.

Beset by armed groups, the DRC suffers the worst displacement crisis in Africa and among the worst globally, with more than 6,3 million displaced people across the country.

It has seen more than 1,5 million people, including over 800 000 children, displaced in Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu Ituri provinces this year.

Displacement camps are generally overcrowded and overstretched, making them vulnerable for cholera transmission.

In Goma, the North Kivu capital, almost 300 000 people, including 183 000 children, lack access to sufficient water.

UNICEF is calling for US$62,5 million to scale up its prevention and response activities to the cholera and sanitation crisis over the next five months.

Currently, the appeal is only 9 percent funded.

– CAJ News



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