Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

"The people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo desperately need help. People are dying every day from diseases we can prevent and treat" (WHO, Donor). Malaria is one of the biggest killers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly known as Zaire). "Health experts estimate that each child under five years of age in DRC has 6 to 10 attacks of malaria per year. This is equivalent to as many as 100 million episodes, or even more, annually. Approximately 180,000 Congolese children under five die from the disease every year, and many others are orphaned when malaria weakens and kills their parents" (Gilliam).

"In less than five years, more than 3 million people have died - most from preventable and treatable diseases. The public health infrastructure is virtually broken down. The risk of epidemics remains high. Without international support to restore basic health care services, the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will only continue to worsen" (WHO, Donor). The country's health system "is severely weakened with insufficient capacity to meet the needs of the population...In many areas, the health system functions as if it were private and patients cannot afford to seek assistance. Numerous private pharmacies provide drugs of dubious quality." Furthermore, most "health workers have not received salaries...for decades. Doctors have left the periphery and gone to the cities or to international agencies for employment...The health worker education system does not function anymore, and there are concerns about the staff qualifications" (WHO, Country).

Current estimates report that "6 out of 10 children do not reach their 5th birthday" (WHO, Donor). "Malaria (P. Falciparum) is endemic" in the country "and is accountable for 45% of childhood mortality. Children under five, of whom only an estimated 0.7% sleep under an insecticide-treated net, suffer from six to ten malaria-related fever episodes each year" (WHO, Country).

"With the rainy season just days away, UNICEF, along with partners including UNITAID and the World Food Program, is mobilizing the distribution of some 5.5 million mosquito bed nets in DRC. Each has been treated with insecticide and can help reduce the risk of contracting malaria for those who sleep under them at night" (Gilliam).

The people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo need your help. While Non-governmental organizations and charities are donating and distributing mosquito nets to the country, the need is still great. Visit one of the sites below for information on how you can help send mosquito nets to people in need in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Also, visit our Help Us page for information on how you can help Infectious Bite raise malaria awareness.

Malaria No More
Netting Nations

Gilliam, Eva. UNICEF. "Malaria campaign underway in Democratic Republic of Congo" 5 October 2009.

WHO. Country Profile: DRC.
WHO. Photo Gallery. [Photo]
WHO. Donor Profile: DRC.

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