Cholera spreads rapidly as conflict intensifies in eastern DR Congo, with three quarters of cases in children – DR Congo

KINSHASA, 22 December 2022 – Cholera cases are rising rapidly in Nyirangongo, a region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that is home to the largest number of people displaced by the recent escalation of the conflict, with children accounting for almost four out of every five cases. said Save the Children.

Nyiragongo, in eastern DRC, has registered more than 973 cases in the past two weeks, including 438 cases among displaced people, many of whom are living in informal camps or sheltering in schools, churches and other sites.

Since fighting between the Congolese army (FARDC) and armed groups resumed in February 2022, more than 450,000 people in North Kivu have been displaced from their villages, and more than 240,000 have taken refuge in Nyiragongo. An escalation in the conflict last weekend, coupled with the rainy season preventing road access to the area, will make fighting the spread of the disease even more difficult.

Save the Children calls for urgent action to prevent a health disaster.

Amavi Akpamagbo, Country Director for Save the Children in the DRC, said:

“One of the most worrying things about this outbreak is that children are more exposed. Data from health authorities shows that more than 77% of registered cases are children aged 14 years or younger, with 119 children currently hospitalized or in units of cholera treatment.”

“Children who have already been devastated by one of the world’s worst food crises are now at risk of the effects of cholera. We know that malnourished children who contract cholera are at least three times more likely to die from their poor systems weakened immune systems[1]. This makes it all the more urgent to act now.”

In the Rutshuru region, also in the east of the country, people have had to flee their homes, leaving everything behind. Children, women and men sleep in the open, many of them without protection from the weather, without enough food, water and access to sanitary facilities that are critical to preventing the further spread of cholera.

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The World Health Organization said last month that more than 14 African countries have reported cholera cases since January 2022 with this acute diarrheal disease endemic in several provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. WHO reported[2] that since the beginning of the year, more than 12,300 suspected cases have been reported in the DRC, including 222 deaths.

In response to the current outbreak, Save the Children is intensifying its health and hygiene promotion activities in Nyirangongo, providing water and sanitation (WASH) supplies and essential medicines to health facilities. The international organization will also support the chlorination of water in places where displaced people live. Save the Children has provided local partners with disinfectant sprays and chlorine, and distributed soap to more than 500 children in play spaces in affected areas.

A recent Save the Children analysis showed that the Democratic Republic of the Congo had the second-highest number of children globally in critical need of essential services such as food, clean water, shelter, and mental health and psychosocial support. However, the DRC’s humanitarian response has received less than half of the necessary funds.

Save the Children has worked in the DRC since 1994 to meet the humanitarian needs linked to the massive displacement of populations due to the armed conflict in the eastern provinces, especially in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri and Kasai-Oriental and Lomami in the center of the country. .

Save the Children is developing activities in the health and nutrition, education and protection sectors so that no community, including the most vulnerable children, is left behind.

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For further inquiries, please contact:

Misty Buswell, Head of Advocacy and Communications in the DRC, [email protected]

Our out of hours (BST) media contact is [email protected] / +44(0)7831 650409

Also check out our Twitter account @Save_GlobalNews for news alerts, quotes, statements, and location Vlogs.

Ruby Wright l Media Manager

Email: [email protected]

Telephone/Whatsapp: (44) 7969983222

Our out of hours (BST) media contact is [email protected] / +44(0)7831 650409

[1] Malnourished children are 6.3x (Severe Acute Malnutrition) and 2.9x (Moderate Acute Malnutrition) more likely to die from diarrheal diseases than well-nourished children. See here for more information: http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/Lancetseries_Undernutrition1.pdf

[2] Working with communities to curb cholera in the Democratic Republic of the Congo | WHO | Regional Office for Africa