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WHO warns DRC health system is on the verge of collapse

Geneva, Jul 2 (Prensa Latina) The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that health situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is today on the verge of collapse due to disease, displacement of people, floods and food insecurity.

“The entire health system is really under stress,” WHO´s Senior Emergency Officer Dr. Jorge Castilla told the press, while stating there had been a major surge in displacement given the ongoing violence fueled by armed groups, leaving around 7.4 million in need of health assistance.

Since March 2022, nearly three million people have been forced to flee from their homes in the eastern part of the country, in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri provinces.

The country’s health system is under huge pressure due to overlapping outbreaks of Covid-19, measles, polio, mpox. Yellow fever, cholera, and malaria are on the rise due to recurrent natural disasters and lack of access to safe water and sanitation for those on the move, said WHO.

WHO data shows that since mid-March, the DRC has been experiencing an average of 1,000 cholera cases per week. As of June 12, a total of 24,562 cases and 156 deaths have been reported.

A measles vaccination campaign is planned for the coming days said WHO. The two provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu alone account for 82 per cent of the more than 136,000 measles cases recorded this year so far, which include 2,000 deaths.

Attacks by armed groups on health facilities have also impacted the ability to provide healthcare.

Hunger and malnutrition are growing, said the WHO expert, forcing some of the displaced to return to areas of origin sporadically just to survive and exposing them to further violence, mental health shocks, and psychosocial strain.

In addition, some 26 million people are facing acute food insecurity this year, the highest number in the world, while acute malnutrition severely affects children under five, pregnant women and lactating mothers.