The second-largest country in Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been hobbled by a history of conflict, which continues in its eastern provinces. With more than 1.9 million outpatient consultations carried out in 2016—almost one-fifth of all Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) outpatient consultations—DRC is our largest intervention in world.
MSF teams support local health care providers, respond to disease outbreaks, and provide access to medical services in places where they are most needed. In 2018, MSF responded to an outbreak of Ebola in Equateur province (declared over in July) and another in North Kivu and Ituri provinces (ongoing). MSF is currently caring for those who are sick, carrying out health promotion activities, conducting infection prevention and control activities, and vaccinating frontline workers against the virus.
Poor infrastructure and inadequate health services continue to restrict access to health care for DRC’s nearly 77 million inhabitants. The continuing conflict in the country’s eastern provinces, where the Congolese army and several armed groups fight for control of resource-rich territory, has also created urgent needs for emergency and routine medical services. At the end of 2016, 2.9 million people were displaced from their homes, having sought refuge in other countries or elsewhere in the DRC.
Insecurity and conflict have taken a toll on the people of DRC, from sexual violence and injuries related to conflict to malnutrition and lack of access to even routine health care. Our teams are at work trying to reduce that toll and provide emergency, routine, and preventive health care.
Crisis in Ituri
More than 100,000 people have been forced from their homes in DRC's Ituri province—one of the provinces currently battling Ebola—as a result of violence in the area of Djugu. The resurgence of violence in Ituri began in December 2017 and intensified in February. Many of those affected have fled to other parts of DRC, north towards Mahagi or south towards Bunia, while tens of thousands of others have crossed Lake Albert seeking safety in Uganda. MSF teams are working in both DRC and Uganda to help people displaced by the attacks.
Three MSF staff members, Philippe, Richard, and Romy, who were abducted in 2013 in Kamango, eastern DRC, remain missing. A fourth staff member, Chantal, escaped in 2014. We remain committed and mobilized to secure their release.
MSF first worked in DRC in 1981.