Democratic Republic of the Congo accelerates training of emergency medical units for use in epidemics

Kisantu, 13 November 2019 – To efficiently provide treatment to people needing urgent medical care during epidemic situations, the Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are this week training inaugural members of the country’s first national emergency medical units for epidemics.

The 30 Congolese doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, logistics personnel, database operators and epidemiologists participating in the training, in Kisantu (120 km south-west of Kinshasa), are being skilled in the management of health emergencies, from preparation through the implementation of public health actions and post-epidemic review.

Based on previous and ongoing epidemic situations in the country, the Government is seeking to increase its response capacity at the regional and national levels.

“Capacity building in emergency interventions represents for our country a priority and a crucial step. After this training, the very first emergency medical unit will be deployed immediately for the response to the current measles outbreak, which is affecting the entire country,” said Dr Laurent Singi-Li-Mobutu, Assistant Director for the National Programme for Emergencies and Humanitarian Action, at the opening of the five-day training workshop.

The DRC frequently experiences epidemic outbreaks, such as cholera, measles, yellow fever and Ebola. “It is both urgent and important to have better-trained emergency medical technicians who will be able to bring about improvements in public health interventions to ensure that those affected by epidemics urgently receive the best care possible,” said Dr Deo Nshimirimana, interim WHO Representative in the DRC.

A recent assessment of risks, vulnerabilities and solutions prompted WHO to “propose practical solutions that emphasize the importance of reinforcing national capacity for organizing treatment in emergency situations while respecting minimum standards. This is why the WHO Regional Office for Africa is supporting this initiative of emergency medical units for epidemics,” stated Dr Zabulon Yoti, WHO Regional Emergencies Director for the African Region.

As a professional platform for emergency medical technicians who deliver care and treatment (medical, surgical and psychological), the emergency medical units will complement the work of rapid intervention teams that provide only short-term treatment and not ongoing medical care.

Workshop participants represent the National Programme for Emergencies and Humanitarian Action, the National Border Sanitation Programme, the National Department of Hygiene, the epidemiological surveillance team, the army medical service, university clinics in Kinshasa and other partners.

Photo: WHO/Eugene Kabambi
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