All of the Congolese personnel employed by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in its Pinga project in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have now returned to their positions, a month after active fighting between armed groups forced many to flee the area in search of safety.
The sudden mass departure of so many key staff had a crippling effect on MSF’s medical programme, and its ability to provide free quality healthcare to people caught up in conflict. One health centre in Mutongo was completely cut off for more than a month – medical activities only restarted last week.
Over the last month, the remaining team of international and Congolese staff was able - despite ongoing violence - to offer a minimal level of support to three of the four MSF health centres in the surrounding area. More than 100 women in labour were assisted to deliver their babies safely.
As local Ministry of Health personnel had also fled, the MSF team stepped into the local hospital in Pinga town and was able to perform more than 25 critical surgical interventions. Patients included those suffering from gunshot wounds and obstetric emergencies.
“We’re relieved our Congolese colleagues are back and we can return to our full range of medical activities in Pinga,” said Grace Tang, MSF’s head of mission. “But there are still hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes due to the ongoing conflict in this part of Congo.”
The ongoing conflict in eastern Congo continues to cause high levels of violence and displacement and generates huge humanitarian needs. MSF cares for thousands of people for free every month throughout North Kivu province in numerous hospitals, health centres and health posts in Rutshuru, Masisi, Mweso, Kitchanga, Walikale, Muganga I camp, Kanyaruchinya and Pinga. There are also a number of Cholera Treatment Centres (CTCs), mobile clinics and emergency response activities.