Post-cholera situation remains poor in Republic of Congo

From November 2006 to April 2007, 6,452 cholera cases and 56 deaths were reported in Pointe-Noire, a coastal city, and 564 cases and four deaths in Brazzaville, the capital. In total, MSF treated approximately 4,000 people, and trained 120 Ministry of Health (MoH) staff on how to run and manage a cholera treatment centre. By April, 2007, the number of cases subsided considerably and the last MSF emergency worker left Congo on April 29. However, despite the intervention and impact the cholera outbreak had on the people of Congo, very little has been done by the government to improve the availability of clean water to the populations of Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville. With little access to health care in these centres, and in the Pool region, surveillance and emergency response to outbreaks of infectious disease continues to be a key concern for MSF in the Republic of Congo, despite the awareness raised through public media during this latest crisis. Background In November 2006, the MoH of the Republic of Congo (also known as Congo-Brazzaville) first detected cases of diarrhea in the coastal city of Pointe Noire, the major oil and trading port. However, it was not until January, 2007, despite reports of 2,300 cases of patients with diarrhea, that the MoH, WHO and UNICEF declared a cholera epidemic. MSF started its emergency intervention in Pointe Noire on January 29, 2007, when the first members of the emergency team arrived. With the field staff, they set up three CTCs and distributed cholera kits in Pointe-Noire hospital. A few weeks later, cholera was also reported in Brazzaville, the capital. There MSF supported the MoH by treating patients at the hospital, provided two cholera treatment units, and four oral rehydration points. MSF also assisted the MoH in setting up CTCs in two other areas; Loudima town (in Bouenza province) and in Pont de Niari (Niari province), which are both located on the railway line between Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. Current activities MSF currently manages two hospitals in the Pool region, providing basic health care, psychosocial counselling, HIV treatment and maternity care, and also manages several mobile clinics and community health centres in the surrounding areas. MSF also reacts to emergencies in other parts of the country as needed.