DRC: MSF invests in health districts

National staff : 185 International staff : 30

MSF supports 19 health districts in the territory held by president Laurent Kabila and is relaunching 18 in the rebel-held zone. Constant attention is being paid to the danger of elevating the quality of care to a standard which cannot be sustained by local means. More community involvement will be needed. Following the outbreak of fighting in August 1998 in the capital, Kinshasa, MSF lent its support to 16 city health structures taking care of the wounded. Backup was also given to four hospitals, mainly in the form of medical supply and electrical and sanitation work. MSF also carried out a similar emergency programme in Lubumbashi. Security was so poor at this time that MSF teams were forced to evacuate from Kisangani. MSF works in two hospitals in the Bas Congo region and provides medical and sanitation assistance to 15,000 Angolan refugees. MSF continues to support local health care in eastern Congo. This includes the reconstruction of devastated clinics, the distribution of medicine, mother and child care and water and sanitation assistance. The objective of MSF's AIDS/STD programme is to limit the transmission of HIV by improving care and carrying out a national information and education campaign. Treatment is provided through specialised centres but is also integrated in the horizontal programmes in health districts. Counselling and education are priorities. In four health districts in Equateur province, MSF is involved in active screening for trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), supervision of patient care, supply of medicine and vector control. MSF has created an emergency pool of MSF volunteers who focus on accelerating and improving the organisation's reaction to medical and other crises. MSF has intervened in polio, measles, meningitis and cholera campaigns. In 1999, MSF ran a mass measles vaccination campaign for 50,000 children in Nsona-Mpangu and Kimpese. MSF provided water and sanitation assistance following an outbreak of Marburg fever in April and May 1999 and also provided nutritional assistance in Kisangani at the same time.