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Ebola intervention in Equateur province

Democratic Republic of Congo

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We respond to emergencies and assist people fleeing violence and armed conflict. In 2019 and 2020, we responded to the country's biggest-ever Ebola outbreak, in Ituri and North Kivu provinces.

We run some of our largest programmes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In 2019, we worked in 21 of out of the country's 26 provinces and responded to one of the biggest outbreaks of measles in decades. We also worked with people displaced by conflict, and those with health problems such as HIV/AIDS.

People have little access to healthcare, and disease outbreaks are frequent due to poor surveillance and infrastructure. Violence has led to crises in the Kivus, Tanganyika and Kasai regions, and has forced millions to flee. Three of our staff, abducted in North Kivu in 2013, are still missing.

Our main areas of activity in DRC

Our activities in 2023 in DRC

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2023.

MSF in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2023 In 2023, as violence escalated in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), displacing record numbers of civilians, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) increased activities to respond to the growing humanitarian needs.
DRC IAR map 2023

By the end of the year, 5.6 million people were displaced across North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri provinces. MSF also responded to numerous other emergencies throughout the country, including disease outbreaks, floods and landslides.

Response to conflict in eastern DRC
In North Kivu, the ongoing conflict between the armed group M23 and the Congolese armed forces and their allies, which erupted in late 2021, intensified towards the end of the year, causing new waves of displacement. By December, 2.5 million people were displaced in the province, half of them due to the ‘M23 crisis’.

Throughout the year, repeated influxes of people fleeing Rutshuru, Masisi and Nyiragongo exacerbated the disastrous situation in the overcrowded displacement sites around Goma city, which continues to deteriorate, due to a lack of national and international action.

In response, we expanded our emergency activities, strengthening the provision of general, maternal and paediatric care in the sites. We also worked to address the increase in waterborne diseases, in particular an explosion of cholera cases in February, as well as malnutrition, measles and war-related injuries. Treatment for sexual violence was another key activity; we saw a worrying surge in cases in 2023.  

This humanitarian crisis affected not only the Goma area but communities across the entire province, as flare-ups in fighting on different fronts repeatedly forced people to flee. This, in turn, reduced their access to healthcare, including vaccinations, resulting in an increase in admissions for malnutrition, measles, cholera and war-related injuries in the many hospitals and health centres supported by MSF.

To assist people on the move, our teams set up mobile clinics in displacement areas, although increasing insecurity repeatedly hindered our mobility, particularly in Masisi territory.

Neighbouring South Kivu was also affected by the violence. In the early months of the year, tens of thousands of people fled to Littoral and Hauts-Plateaux in Minova health zone, where our teams launched an emergency intervention, providing medical care to the sick and injured, and improving hygiene facilities following an increase in cholera and measles cases.

The underreported crisis in Ituri
Less visible in the media were the widespread, relentless attacks on civilians in Ituri, which showed no respite in 2023. In Drodro region, an intensification in violence between January and March forced people, including health workers and patients, to flee, leaving most health centres in the area deserted. During this period, we maintained our services in Rho camp, where many people had gathered, while also increasing our support in displacement sites, by supplying clean water, installing sanitation facilities, distributing hygiene kits, and increasing general, specialised and community medical services.

In Angumu, our teams continued to support the general hospital and 13 displacement sites, focusing on tackling malaria, treating respiratory infections, and providing maternal and paediatric care. In Bunia, we supported the general hospital through training and donations, and launched a project at Salama hospital focusing on surgery and post-surgical services, including physiotherapy, orthopaedic care and mental health support, for patients with accidental trauma and violence-related injuries.

Violence, natural disasters and epidemics
MSF’s response to situations of violence was not limited to North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri. Further west, in Tshopo and Mai-Ndombe provinces, we launched emergency interventions to assist people caught up in land or intercommunal conflicts by providing general healthcare, running mobile clinics and referring wounded patients. We also installed sanitation facilities and distributed relief items, including mattresses and hygiene items.

In addition, our teams responded to disasters in 2023. In May, in Kalehe, South Kivu, floods and landslides devastated entire villages, causing several hundred deaths and numerous injuries. MSF teams quickly arrived on site to treat the wounded, refer the most serious cases by boat to hospitals in Bukavu, and provide donations of medicines and body bags.

Measles, a major killer in the country, once again spread rapidly in 2023, with nearly 300,000 cases and 6,000 deaths registered during the year. This was partly due to deteriorating security in the east and the worst vaccination setback recorded in DRC in years.

As well as treating many thousands of patients, our mobile teams launched emergency vaccination campaigns across the country, regularly administering other multi-antigen vaccines to curb the spread of diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough, hepatitis, pneumonia and polio.

Our teams also responded to a typhoid fever outbreak in Panzi, in Kwango province, as well as an outbreak of mpox in Bolomba, in Équateur province. In both cases, our teams provided healthcare to patients and supported the health authorities with community epidemic surveillance and staff training.

Regular general and specialist care activities
Alongside our emergency interventions, we continued to run our regular activities across DRC. In addition to supporting health facilities, we train networks of community health workers to detect high-prevalence diseases such as malaria and malnutrition, particularly in hard-to-reach areas.

Care for victims and survivors of sexual violence is another major component of many of our projects. Our teams provide not only medical treatment, but also psychological care, and engage communities with awareness-raising activities to ensure they know where they can seek relevant medical treatment.

In the capital, Kinshasa, we launched a new project in early 2023 to strengthen access to general and specialised care for people with disabilities. The project focuses on improving access to healthcare facilities, boosting hygiene in accommodation sites, and working with the community to cater to the needs of people with disabilities. Meanwhile, we handed over our HIV care activities in Goma and our sexual violence project in Kananga to the health authorities.

 

In 2023
 
MSF emergency team doctor, examines a child
Democratic Republic of Congo

En RDC, la rougeole tue et gagne à nouveau du terrain

Project Update 1 Avr 2021
 
Emergency Malaria Outbreak South Kivu DRC
Democratic Republic of Congo

RDC: De violentes attaques contre son personnel obligent MSF à mettre fin à des projets dans le territoire de Fizi, au Sud-Kivu

Press Release 1 Dec 2020
 
Everyday Emergency: North Kivu
Democratic Republic of Congo

Six ans sans nouvelle de nos trois collègues, otages des ADF

Statement 11 Jul 2019
 
Ebola outbreak - Butembo
Democratic Republic of Congo

La riposte Ebola n’arrive pas à prendre le dessus sur l’épidémie

Press Release 8 Mar 2019
 
Patiente Ngangu, MSF nurse
Democratic Republic of Congo

MSF en RDC : rapport annuel 2017

Report 13 Mar 2018
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13 Juin 2018