Lubumbashi, 6 March 2012 — Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) returned to continue its medical care in Shamwana, Katanga province, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Saturday, after it suspended its operations two days earlier due to fighting in the town that displaced the entire population.
“There hasn’t been fighting in Shamwana in nearly six years,” says Katrien Coppens, Operational Manager for DRC. “When we heard that there were battles between the Mai Mai militia and the government forces which drove the population to flee, we were surprised that this was happening in Shamwana, a village that has been secure. In fear, our sick patients got up and left quickly, which made us doubly concerned for their fate."
The team arrived to find that the village is still empty of people. Though its medical activities have resumed, MSF remains concerned about the deterioration of security in the area, which continues to hamper the continuous provision of medical assistance to the population.
MSF has been in working in Shamwana since May of 2006 providing health care to people living in the Kiambi, Mitwaba and Kilwa health zones. Teams provide free primary and secondary health care treating malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malnutrition and providing reproductive health services, mental health care and emergency surgery. For five years consecutively, in Shamwana, MSF runs two fistula camps where skilled MSF surgeons repair obstetric fistulas in hundreds of women.
In 2011 in Katanga province, MSF provided more than 67,000 medical consultations, assisted in 1,223 deliveries, treated close to 25,000 patients with malaria, vaccinated nearly 600,000 children from measles and treated 13,746 measles cases in children under five years of age.
MSF has been present in DRC since 1981 and delivers primary and specialized hospital care in health facilities and through mobile medical clinics throughout the country.