DRC: Reponding to a Malaria Emergency in Lulingu | Doctors Without BordersPosted: June 17, 2013
Once the alarm was raised, the emergency team in South Kivu immediately sent a six-member medical team to the area, using motorbikes to negotiate the trails though the forest. On arrival in the town of Lulingu, the team carried out tests and established that the patients were suffering from malaria rather than meningitis, which can have similar symptoms. Malaria is endemic in the region.
In response to the scale of the outbreak, MSF has reinforced its emergency team to include eleven Congolese staff and four international staff. They started working in Lulingu’s General Reference Hospital, supporting malaria diagnosis and treatment in the pediatric and maternity wards. Later on activities were expanded to include the town of Tchonka, the second epicenter of the outbreak.
In Lulingu, the team has treated 1,526 people for malaria since May 4, using Artesunate [a drug commonly used for treating malaria] and blood transfusions when required. Malaria can cause severe anemia and patients frequently need transfusions, with blood generally provided by members of their own family. Since MSF’s team started work, mortality rates among malaria patients in Lulingu have dropped from more than 5 percent to 1.29 percent.