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DR Congo faces 'worst' cholera outbreak since 2017: WHO

Anadolu Agency AFRICA
Published March 22,2024
(File Photo)

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is facing its "worst" cholera outbreak since 2017, with 50,000 suspected cases and 470 deaths recorded in 2023.

"The risk is particularly high in internally displaced people (IDP) sites where living conditions are dire, with water supply, hygiene and sanitation services inadequate-conditions that favor the spread of cholera," Boureima Hama Sambo, WHO representative to DR Congo, told a UN press briefing in Geneva, in which he participated virtually.

Sambo underscored that DR Congo is also battling the largest epidemic of measles recorded since 2019, with so far nearly 28,000 cases and 750 deaths in 2024.

The combination of measles and malnutrition has a serious health impact on children under the age of five, and a lack of access to vaccines and vaccination services exacerbates the situation, he said, adding that anthrax and plague have also affected communities in Eastern DR Congo in recent months.

"In addition, the still-emerging outbreak of mpox has been on the rise across the country over the last year," he said, noting that nearly 4,000 suspected cases and 271 deaths have been recorded so far in 2024.

It represents a higher case fatality rate than what was seen during the global outbreak.

He said over two-thirds of the cases are reported in children, and young children are particularly at risk of death.

The representative also warned that there is a risk of geographic expansion to previously unaffected provinces, with almost all provinces, including Kinshasa, now reporting cases.

"This also represents a threat of expansion to neighboring countries and beyond," Sambo said.