Democratic Republic of the Congo (drc)

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Country Profile

Priority Needs:

  • To establish and/or improve an effective surveillance system, to maximally reduce the increase of health risks among the population (including IDPs) through the provision of information on public health, followed up by prompt actions>

  • To carry out nutritional surveys followed by prompt and appropriate actions to mitigate malnutrition problem>

  • To improve and enlarge immunization campaigns

Main Recommendations

  • Measles vaccination campaign targeting 6 months-14 years by including IDPs and refugees

  • Malaria: development of a new treatment protocol based on drug efficacy studies. To standardize case management and treatment protocols, agreed and utilized by all health humanitarian actors including MoH>

  • HIV/AIDS: testing materials for blood transfusions. Staff training at all health facilities with blood bank.

  • Epidemic surveillance extended to measles, meningitis, haemorrhagic fevers, cholera and disentery

  • Donors must accept the principle of payment of salaries to health workers in a coordinated way. Just for specific and urgent and/or punctual actions (disaster, emergencies, surveys) not for a long period that could create unbalanced work status and/or dependence

  • Health education and /or promotion and socialization campaigns about main health problems (HIV/AIDS, malaria, diarrhoea, malnutrition)


  • Since 1998 the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been rent by ethnic strife and civil war. Troops from several countries have intervened in the conflict.

  • A cease-fire was signed in1999, but skirmishing has continued. In January 2001 Laurent Kabila was assassinated; he was replaced by his son Joseph who has since moved to implement the stalled Lusaka Peace Agreement, allowing the deployment of UN troops, and adopting economic policies in line with WB and IMF prescriptions.

  • The economic and political crises in DRC as well as natural disasters, such as recent volcano eruption, have increased public health risks for the population.

  • Civil Conflicts have displaced over a 2 M persons in North and South Kivu. More than 330,000 people are refugees in DRC due to civil conflicts in neighbour countries (Sudan, Rwanda, Republic of Congo, Burundi and Angola).

  • DRC is one of the poorest countries of the world (GDP per capita of USD 97) and a HDI of 0.43 (ranking it 152nd out of 175 countries). The economy has been declining for years, as well as ODA has been reduced from USD 476M to USD 168 between 1991-97i.

  • Languages spoken are: French (official), Lingala, Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba

Political and Administrative Division

  • 11 provinces: Bandundu, Bas-Congo, Equateur, Kasai-Occidental, Kasai-Oriental, Katanga, Kinshasa city, Maniema, Nord-Kivu, Orientale, Sud-Kivu

  • Each province is sub-divided in districts and each district in administrative areas (zones).

Structure of the Health System

  • The National Health System is organized in four tiers:

    • Central, including the Public Health Ministry and the General Secretariat

    • Provincial, including the Health Provincial Inspection

    • District with three divisions (General, Medical and Hygiene Services)

  • Local, which corresponds to the Health Area (Zone de Santé, nominally in the number of 307), headed by a Provincial Medical Officer, with a varying number

Accessibility and Essentials for Logistics

  • Rainy season: north of Equator: April to October, south of Equator: November to March

  • Routes of access. Transport infrastructure has largely collapsed, and insecurity is widespread. Transport cost for humanitarian assistance goods is extremely high (USD350 per ton in 2000ii).

  • Transport by rail/road: of Out of the 145,000 km of roads, no more than 2,500 are asphalt. )


  • As of March 2001: Kinshasa: Phase III; rest of the country: Phase IV.

  • The map shows the military control of the territory as of August 20011

  • In Government-controlled

areas, humanitarian access

has reportedly improved

since March 2001 due to a change in the government policy,except for designated mining areas.

  • In rebel-held areas, access is limited by serious and unpredictable security problems1a.

  • Access was limited due to clashes between various armed forces, looting, ambushes and kidnappings in the East and North-East. Recent attacks of relief workers occurred in Kisangani (IRIN 19 June 2002), Shabunda (UN OCHA 19 June 2002) and Baraka on the shores of Lake Tanganyika (IRIN 5 August 2002).

Affected Populationiii

  • Total country population: 52 M

  • IDPs: 2 Miv, 1 M in North and South Kivu, 1.6 M in non government-controlled areas, (as of March 2001)

  • Refugees in DRC: 330,000 (as of March 2001); from Sudan, Rwanda, Republic of Congo, Burundi and Angola; DRC refugees in third countries: 310,000 (end of 2000) Tanzania, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Burundi, CAR, Angola, as compared to 135,000 in 1998

  • From nov.1999 to Nov.2000 the total affected population has doubled, from 1,3 M to 2.5 Mv

  • The Nyiragongo volcano eruption in February 2002,caused the destruction of around 15 percent of Goma town, and approximately 120,000 people have been made homeless (UN OCHA 28 Feb 2002).

  • According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an estimated 2.5 million people have died in the context of the war since August 1998, the majority due to disease and malnutrition (IRC April 2001).

Food security- Nutrition

  • In 2000, the daily per capita calorie intake was estimated at 1,815 Kcal (as compared to the African average of 2,200 Kcalvi).

  • This overall indicator masks, however, the lack of food security of a large part of the population: around one third (16 M) face extreme food insecurity, mainly in eastern DRC (North and South Kivu, Equatoria and Orientale provinces), but also in Kinshasa city, according to late 2000vii UN estimates.

  • The prevalence of acute and sever malnutrition is extremely high according to the different anthropometrics surveys2.

  • It has been reported that approximately 64 percent of people in Eastern DRC are undernourished. (Oxfam 2 Feb 2002).

  • Minimum salary month:……………………………………………………….

  • Cost of basic food basket: ……………………………………………………

Epidemiological Profile 3

  • All the epidemiological indicators are extremely high and point to the worst public health disaster over the last decades.

  • A recent series of surveys estimated 2.5 M excess deaths between 1998 and 2001 in eastern DRC (20 M total population), with 10% of all deaths attributable to violence and the rest to malnutrition and preventable diseasesviii.

  • Crude mortality rate: 15 deaths per 1,000 per year, (range: 32-145 in the IRC surveys in eastern DRC).

  • Maternal mortality rate: in Kivu, eastern DRC, rates as high as 3,000 per 100,000 have been reported in 2001. (OCHA, 2001)

  • Immunisation coverage are very low: 15% measles, 25% DPT3, 21% polio in 1999.

  • HIV/AIDS represent one of the main health problems, but dataix are scanty: total AIDS cases reported as of 1999: 47,500; adult rate with infection: 5%; 12% of STD clinic patients tested in Kinshasa were positive.

  • Reported outbreaks (source WHO/weekly Epidemiological Record, diseases subjected to international regulations, Cholera: 1998: 22,119 cases, 1,941 deaths; 1999: 13,993 cases, 1,290 deaths; 2000: 14,995 cases, 941 deaths.


  • It is estimated that only 26% of the population in rural areas has access to water.

Health System

  • Countrywide coverage4 is estimated at between 30% and 60%x.

  • Due to the extreme underfunding of the sector (less than 1% of the gov.budget), user fees are widely charged, further diminishing the access to services.

  • Thirty percent of health zones received no funds in 2000 (s.)

  • Almost 50% of the 2,000 doctors work in the capital.

  • Health units not supported by external agencies are in a dilapidated state and lack minimum supplies and equipment. In eastern DRC, functioning of and access to health services is reported to be, on average, even worse. WHO and UNICEFxi estimated that US$350 M a year would be required to re-establish health services and improve health indicators.

  • Normal national salary of doctor and nurse: ………………………………………….

  • Public Health National Guidelines may be accessed at: ……………………………

Humanitarian response – C.A.P.

  • Over the last year, humanitarian agencies have gained access to formerly inaccessible areas such as Kabinda, Boende, Ikela and Pweto in the west (Oxfam 25 April 2002).

  • Many UN agencies and international NGOs assist IDPs in government and in rebel-held territories in many crucial areas. They provide food and non-food items to the displaced, health care, emergency education, support child protection and reintegration activities. (see for example WFP emergency reports, UN OCHA 26 Nov 2001, ICRC 7 March 2002, SCF-UK June 2002).

  • Several humanitarian agencies have recently opened sub-offices in the field to get closer to displaced communities living in isolated locations (UN OCHA 26 Nov 2001 & WHO 9 Aug 2001).

  • The 2002 UN Consolidated Appeal amounts to over US$ 194 million (UN OCHA 26 Nov 2001). An additional 21,6 million was requested in February 2002 following the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano (UN OCHA 19 Feb 2002). The UN appeal following the volcano eruption generated a prompt donor response, while the 2002 consolidated appeal was less than 30 per cent funded as of early August 2002 (OCHA 2002 "Financial Tracking").

Main Health Players

  • For a map of NGOs providing support to Health Areas, link to the SANRU III web page:

Useful Contacts

  • Complete and regularly updated list of useful contacts by including more relevant partners from MoH: ……………………………………………………….





WHO Representative

Dr. L. Tapsoba

243 884 07 89

Other useful information

  • for your safety” to include link with WHO/CDC travellers book

Other Resources

  • More information on health indicators, financial situation, maps and more extended background information can be found under DR Congo at the EHA website:

1 a in April 2001 6 ICRC workers were killed on a routine mission

2 Refer to the RNIS bulletin, vol 31 and 32, April 2001

3 all the indicators are those included in the EHA web page, unless otherwise indicated.

4 Coverage refers to access to health care, not to geographical coverage

i WFP/EB/2000/8-B/3 posted on, accessed on 25/8/2001

ii WFP/EB/2000/8-B/3 posted on, accessed on 25/8/2001

iii Sources:http://acc. rnis3233.PDF; world/afri/zaire.htm; appeals/2001/ drc01.pdf)

iv (OCHA 3//2001)

v UN CAp for DRC, 2001

vi WFP/EB/2000/8-B/3 posted on, accessed on 25/8/2001

vii UN CAp for DRC, 2001

viii IRC: Mortality in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, 2001

ix UNAIDS, DRC Epidemiological fact shhet, 2000 update, hivaidsinfo/ statistics/ june00/fact_sheets/pdfs/demrepcongo.pdf, accessed on 25/8/2001

x OXF,…..


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