Massive malaria surge in Democratic Republic of Congo requires urgent response – New Zealand DoctorPosted: April 23, 2012
“It is rare to see such a large proportion of patients with severe malaria,” said Dr. Jorgen Stassijns, a malaria specialist for Médecins Sans Frontières. “But treatment outside the cities remains especially weak, due to unaffordability or geographic inaccessibility. In some areas health care is simply non-existent. Even when treatment is available, the drugs are sometimes inadequate or outdated,” he said.
In response to the massive outbreak, Médecins Sans Frontières has deployed additional emergency medical teams in four provinces in DRC. In 2009, teams treated more than 45,000 people with malaria. In 2011, more than 158,000 people were treated. So far this year, more than 85,000 people have been treated.
While the exact causes of the outbreak remain uncertain, this new crisis is unfolding in the context of a health system sorely lacking resources at all levels. The country lacks adequate medicines, medical supplies, and properly trained medical personnel. Malaria prevention and screening systems are deficient.