Kasika is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Goma, the largest city in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It was in Kasika that Goma’s first case was detected.
But Ebola is not the only disease to scourge the residents of Kasika, who live in close conditions, under tin roofs, with no running water, no flushing toilets and little sanitation. Cholera and measles are also surging through the community.
“Two of my neighbours went to hospital this week. I heard it was measles. Now my baby has cholera. We are really suffering here,” says Rachel Mukandekese, as she sits on a cholera cot – a bed specially designed for cholera patients – in the Kasika health centre, cradling her son, 20-month-old Benediction. He has diarrhoea and is badly dehydrated.
The number of cholera and measles cases has risen across the DRC, including in North Kivu, where the Ebola outbreak has raged for more than a year. Since the start of 2019 in DRC, there have been 183 837 suspected cases of measles and 3 667 deaths and 18 201 suspected cases of cholera and 325 deaths. There have been 2 576 confirmed and probable Ebola cases and 1 760 deaths in that same period.
“Usually, we organize a countrywide vaccination campaign for measles every three years,” says Dr Stéphane Hans Bateyi Mustafa, regional coordinator for the expanded programme for immunization in North Kivu. “But this time we’re late. In North Kivu, many human resources and funding sources were directed into the Ebola outbreak. Other routine activities have been underresourced.”
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