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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Red Cross Launches Emergency Appeal to Fight Multiple Deadly Disease Outbreaks

In light of several epidemics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal, calling for 2.2 million Swiss francs to support activities in response to ongoing yellow fever, measles, and cholera outbreaks.

In March, a yellow fever outbreak was declared after 39 cases were reported imported from neighbouring Angola. The cholera outbreak has resulted in close to 6,000 cases and 94 deaths since the beginning of the year, while the measles epidemic has produced at least 749 cases, resulting in 26 deaths.

The Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been a key partner of the Congolese government in the fight against recurrent epidemics, most recently deploying volunteers to raise awareness about preventative measures against yellow fever. 

“Our volunteers have conducted door-to-door awareness activities, visiting more than 400,000 houses, to provide important messages and information on yellow fever and also to help convincing people who were refusing to be vaccinated,” said Dr Balelia Wema Jean Faustin, health coordinator of the Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The emergency appeal aims to provide assistance to more than 12 million people with interventions focusing on emergency health, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion.

“Being a community-based organization, the use of social mobilization approaches to improve on vaccination coverage and education of diseases, has always been a successful strategy adopted by the Red Cross,” said Dr Viviane Nzeusseu, IFRC health coordinator, Central Africa.

“Permanent dialogue with communities through door-to-door visits, mass communication, and focus group discussions, is helping to achieve the expected goals in terms of vaccination acceptance and the adoption of good hygiene and sanitation practices.” 

The launch of the emergency appeal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo follows a call from the IFRC for 1.4 million Swiss francs to support the Angola Red Cross in assisting 9 million people affected by the worst yellow fever outbreak in the country in 30 years. As of 8 July, there had been 3,625 suspected cases reported, of which 876 are confirmed, along with 357 deaths. Red Cross volunteers are supporting national vaccination campaigns, as well as raising awareness on preventative measures. The appeal for Angola is currently 6 per cent funded.

Distributed by APO on behalf of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).