From research to field action: example of the fight against cholera in the Democratic Republic of Congo
12 Feb 2009
1Hôpital de la Timone, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille, France
2Laboratoire Chrono-Environnement, CNRS, UMR 6249, Université de Franche-Comté, UFR Sciences et Techniques, Besançon, France
3Direction de la Lutte contre la Maladie, Ministère de la Santé Publique, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
4Fondation Veolia Environnement, Nanterre, France
5Solidarités, Clichy, France
Abstract. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the country in the world which reported the highest number of cholera cases to WHO from 2002 to 2007 (128 936 cases out of a worldwide 902 071 cases). We, therefore, implemented research work which intends to understand the epidemiology of cholera in the DRC and to ensure improvements in the strategy to fight against cholera. This broad study enabled us to accurately determine the cholera epidemic's mechanisms on different scales; to identify the source zones of the disease, and the groups of populations acting as vectors of the spread. It was then possible to demonstrate the role of "sanctuary'', played by some suburbs of lakeside cities. A collaborative network, including several scientific institutions in Europe and in the DRC, local and national government administrations in the field of public health and sanitation, international agencies, NGOs and private foundations, was progressively set up. Following the conclusions of our epidemiological studies, a drastic change of strategy was proposed: the limited curative approach on the one hand, the few existing water/sanitation programs on the other hand, have been merged in a global approach involving a larger scale water and sanitation infrastructure improvement, environmental protection, hygiene awareness and medical surveys targeting a few focus areas playing a central role in the epidemics. In conclusion, by better targeting intervention zones, one can gather human and technical resources previously scattered on the vast territory of the DRC. The strategy presented here revives the hope to eliminate cholera in the DRC.