In response to the conflict in the Greater Kasai region in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has provided free emergency and routine medical care to 4,200 patients in and around Kananga city (Kasai Central province) and in Tshikapa (Kasai province).
Victims of violence
Since 10 May, MSF has cared for 198 patients in its emergency department in Kananga, a city of 750,000 people in Kasai Central region. A third of these were victims of violence. 107 trauma patients required hospitalisation in the MSF-managed trauma wing of Kananga’s general hospital. Half of these hospitalised patients were suffering from gunshot wounds, and another 15% from other violent trauma (such as knife and machete wounds, etc.).
MSF fully rehabilitated the hospital’s trauma wing and increased its capacity from 25 to 49 beds by building a new extension. The service is now fully managed by MSF staff, both international and Congolese, as a self-contained, independent structure within the public hospital. All medical services provided by MSF are free of charge.
“The agreements between MSF and the Ministry of Health state is that the hospital and mobile clinics are solely managed by MSF. Medical services are based exclusively on medical needs, as assessed by medical professionals. Strictly no weapons, be they from individuals or official armed forces, are tolerated inside the facility. No patient can be arrested while inside the medical facility or during a referral. MSF ensures strict medical confidentiality, as per the medical ethics”, says Barbara Turchet, MSF’s deputy head of mission.
MSF treating malnourished children
Since the second week of June, the organisation has been working in the urban part of Tshikapa (Kasai province), supporting three health centres and one hospital in different areas of the city. MSF is providing medical and humanitarian assistance to susceptible groups in the area, such as children under 5 years of age, pregnant and lactating women, the wounded, and those in medical and surgical emergency situations.
“We are aware that MSF’s own response response remains below what we suspect the needs are, and we are looking at ways to increase our medical and humanitarian response..”
Between 8 June and 2 July, MSF treated 266 malnourished children through one inpatient and two outpatient therapeutic feeding centres. The teams have carried out 787 consultations with children aged less than five years old, assisted 120 births, treated 45 people for conflict-related injuries, —including 4 children with gun wounds and 10 children with machete-inflicted injuries—, and received 5 cases of sexual violence.
Moreover, MSF operates one mobile clinic in Kananga and three on the axes around the city, towards Tshikapa and Demba, which have to date provided 2,757 medical consultations to people who have fled their houses and are living in the bush. This week, MSF teams have also started medical activities in the periphery of Tshikapa city.
“We are aware that MSF’s own response response remains below what we suspect the needs are, and we are looking at ways to increase our medical and humanitarian response,” says Nicholas Papachrysostomou, emergency coordinator of MSF in Tshikapa.
Setting up clinics inside refugee camps
In Angola’s Dundo province, MSF has been working for the past three months in the two refugee camps, Mussengue and Cacanda, hosting more than 27,000 refugees from Kasai. The teams have set up two clinics where they have already performed more than 12,000 medical consultations, and are also supporting the paediatric hospital (focused on malnutrition amongst children in the host and refugee community and in severe adult patients).
MSF has recently finalised a vaccination campaign for more than 5,000 children (measles, yellow fever, polio and pentavalent) and has also worked in the provision of water and initial construction of latrines, although drinking water and sanitation remains a challenge.
MSF is an independent international humanitarian medical organisation. It has been working consistently in the DRC for 35 years, providing healthcare to victims of conflict and violence, to displaced people and to those suffering from epidemics. It is currently present in 11 provinces across the country.
The organisation has worked in the Greater Kasai region on several occasions, for example, to respond to two Ebola outbreaks in Kampungu in 2007 and 2008; to bring assistance to migrant workers expelled from Angola in 2007, and to conduct several emergency vaccination campaigns.
Find out more about MSF's work in Democratic Republic of Congo.