Malaria is the leading cause of death in the Democratic Republic of Congo and every year kills about 300,000 children under five years of age. The cases in the country continue to rise and the disease is sweeping the existing systems of care and prevention. In most health centers and hospitals of the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (DWB) in the DRC, there has been a substantial increase, even in its severe form.
In six provinces (half of the country), the number of people treated for the pandemic in DWB projects increased by 250% since 2009. This outbreak is particularly alarming because of the large number of patients with severe malaria who require urgent hospitalization and blood transfusions for anemia induced by the disease. Moreover, it remains particularly difficult to treat people outside the city, because of geographic inaccessibility.
In some areas, health care is simply nonexistent. Even when treatment is available, drugs are sometimes inadequate or obsolete. In 2011, DWB treated more than 158,000 people. So far in 2012, more than 85,000 have been treated.
While the exact causes of the epidemic remains uncertain, this new crisis develops in the context of a health system which lacks resources at all levels. The country lacks adequate drugs, medical supplies and medical personnel. There is not enough prevention. In the provinces of North and South Kivu, and recently in the northern province of Katanga, insecurity and new and ongoing conflicts prevent people from accessing health care centers. In the provinces of Maniema, Orientale, Equateur and Katanga, the absence of other medical workers, and inadequate health care system leave people vulnerable to the pandemic.