MAF Battling Deadly Epidemics in DRC

by | Aug 10, 2011 | Charisma Archive

maf_drc_measles_choleraAs
cholera and measles sicken thousands in the Democratic Republic of
Congo, Mission Aviation Fellowship is providing desperately
needed flight services to assist medical agencies in their efforts to
combat these deadly diseases.

A measles epidemic has threatened the DRC for the past nine months. MAF,
a faith-based relief organization that brings aid to needy people in
remote areas of the world, has been flying medical workers and supplies
into the areas most affected.

In the past month MAF has carried some 100 medical staff and 14,000
pounds of vaccines and medical supplies to support 24 mobile clinics
that Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF) has
launched to fight measles.

“We have recently flown 13 flights to Malemba from Lubumbashi for MSF
France, transporting doctors, nurses, logistics people, vaccines,
medical supplies, generators, beds, food, water—you name it,” says
MAF Pilot Tim Chase. “We have also been flying for MSF Holland, as they
assess the situation and prepare to respond. Our support of this crisis
is ongoing.”

Says Chase: “In one village, the residents wanted help so desperately
that 300 people worked four days to clear and reopen an overgrown
airstrip so MAF could land with the medical team and supplies.”

According to UN reports, some 115,600 Congolese children suffered from
measles between January and June, and 1,145 died of the disease. MAF has
provided continuing support for treatment and vaccination campaigns.

While measles plagues south central DRC, cholera threatens the western
part of the country. Ron Wismer, MAF program manager in western DRC,
reports the aviation ministry has been transporting medicines and
personnel from Kinshasa into Bolobo and Mbandaka, towns located north of
Kinshasa on the Congo River.

“We are now flying into Mbandaka two or three times per week to support
the cholera work, and also flying regularly into Bolobo,” says Wismer.
“The epidemic seems to be following the river.”

Cholera was first reported in western DRC in March. According to the
World Health Organization, 3,896 cases have been reported, including 265
deaths.

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