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Republic of Congo
At the beginning of the year, according to the UN refugee agency, an estimated 59,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remained in Bétou district, in Likouala, afraid to go home.
At Bétou hospital, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has strengthened capacity to meet the needs of refugees and local residents. The team has opened new services including obstetrics, a nutrition program and a laboratory, and reorganized hospital departments for surgery, outpatients and emergency medicine. The majority of roughly 2,600 outpatient visits per month were children, most of whom had respiratory infections or malaria. In addition, staff provide emergency assistance to refugees along the Ubangi River. MSF also works with national control programs for tuberculosis (TB) and HIV. In 2012, 77 HIV patients and 97 TB patients were registered for treatment supported by MSF.
Explosions in Brazzaville
On 4 March, explosions in a munitions depot in Congo’s capital Brazzaville caused serious damage. Two hundred people died, over 1,000 were injured and 15,000 became homeless. MSF treated wounded at two public hospitals, setting up triage tents at the University Hospital to prioritize patients in need of urgent treatment and donating medical equipment for surgery.
Over 1,000 displaced people in two camps received medical and psychological care. MSF also managed safe water provision and sanitation and monitored for cholera and measles at five other locations. The emergency response ended in June.
New Treatment for Yaws
The indigenous Aka pygmies in northern Congo have scant access to healthcare. These remote communities are still affected by yaws, a contagious but curable skin infection that, untreated, can cause permanent disfigurement and disability. The World Health Organization has a new recommended treatment protocol for yaws, which requires just a single oral dose of azithromycin. The MSF team in Congo was the first to implement this protocol, travelling to Aka communities in the forest and treating 17,500 people.
Cholera in Pointe-Noire
Following torrential rains in November, cholera broke out in December in the city of Pointe-Noire. MSF set up a cholera treatment centre in Loandjili hospital and helped health authorities put preventive measures in place.
At the end of 2012 MSF had 220 staff in Congo. MSF has been working in the country since 1997.