Authorities in the South Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo are struggling to contain an outbreak of cholera which has left over 20 people hospitalized.
All the cases of cholera have been recorded in the area of Kasunyu in the Minova territory, South Kivu Province.
According to Dr. Chito Bagula, the chief of the Minova Health Zone, more cases are likely to be recorded as the locals in the area continue to drink water from contaminated sources and using Lake Kivu to answer nature’s calls. Many of the locals have got no toilet facilities and that even the township also has no public toilet facilities.
Dr. Bagula says that there is need for the locals to take seriously basic hygiene practices. He says the government in the area has established chlorination points in the area where the water fetched by the locals from the lake is made safe for drinking.
Dr. Bagula further reveals that the health officials are working in conjunction with the local authorities to ensure that people who have not toilet facilities are arrested and compelled to do so.
Kasanyu Township is home to over 15,000 residents and they rely on water from Lake Kivu for drinking and domestic needs.
Safari Murebua, a local leader in the area of Kasunyu, says that the locals have not been taking serious the issues of hygiene and that the authorities are now moving to ensure that there is no loss of lives.
DRC, which has virtually been at war since 1996, remains bottom of human development, according to the 2013 UN Human Development Index. The country has an under five mortality rate of 158 per 1000, 43% stunting in children under-five, 47% coverage of improved drinking water sources and 14% sanitary latrine coverage.
In July 2012, the World Health Organisation (WHO) noted a sharp increase in the number of cholera cases in the armed conflict area of North Kivu. According to the WHO report, 368 new cases were reported between June and July of that year, with the most affected areas being Birambizo, Goma, Karisimbi, Kiroshe, Mutwanga, Mweso and Rwanguba.
The report came just three months after the rebels of M23 movement launched an offensive against the government of President Joseph Kabila. North and South Kivu are the centres of the fighting where up to half a million people remain displaced.