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Health levels inadequate Congo Brazzaville IDP camps

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In Congo-Brazzaville, the conflict between government and Ninja rebels in the Pool region restarted in March last year. Since October 2002, over 10,000 IDPs from Pool have resettled in nine camps just outside the Brazzaville city limits.

Last week the MSF team conducted an exhaustive survey of all children-under-5 in these camps. The survey revealed a relatively low prevalence of malnutrition.

However, as this is a very vulnerable population and also in order to keep an eye on their humanitarian situation, MSF initiated a mobile dry supplementary feeding centre. This feeding programme is targeted at vulnerable groups within the IDP population including children below 130cm, pregnant and lactating women and the elderly.

During its assessments, the team also learnt that primary health care services were inadequate to meet the medical needs of the population; access and availability of drugs for malaria, diarrhoea and respiratory infections were poor.

In order to address this gap in humanitarian assistance, the team now supports health posts in specified IDP camps with drugs, training and supervision to ensure optimal quality and free preventative and curative care services.

In late March, the government of the Republic of Congo and Ninja authorities signed a peace agreement.

This agreement provides the basis for officially opening the borders of the Pool region and it should end the fighting and torching and looting of villages.

However, the IDP population remains sceptical of the security situation, and for the time being are not returning home.

Meanwhile, MSF has recently made its first exploration into the region. Over the course of coming weeks, the aim is to further assess the security situation in the Pool and informally evaluate the medical needs of resident and returning populations.