In Goma’s Birere slum, hazards including candles and kerosene lamps abound, water is scarce, and there are few emergency services or decent roads. Overcrowding is another factor, but a group of young volunteers in the neighborhood has created a fire response service.
Women in Democratic Republic of Congo, who face a high risk of being raped because sexual violence is used as a weapon of war there, also suffer from complex health problems, often related to pregnancy and childbirth. HEAL Africa, which offers reconstructive surgery for women who have fistulas, also provides safe transport for women who live in remote areas that are sometimes surrounded by violent militias.
Malaria is a leading cause of death in the DRC, especially among children under five. Due to a lack of affordable health care and insurance, many residents choose to buy antimalarial drugs directly from pharmacies. However, overuse can make antimalarial drugs less effective, and there is a health risk associated with delaying proper treatment due to misdiagnosis.
Feeding a desperate need for clean water, business-minded people in Democratic Republic of Congo cross into Rwanda to fill water jugs to sell back home. In the Goma area of DRC, a resource-rich country, the only water available to many people is from Lake Kivu, and people there say it’s not safe to drink.
In a nation where nearly three-quarters of the people lack access to safe drinking water, one man in the eastern city of Bukavu accidentally found a source and is supplying water for his neighbors. An official blames a long dry spell, obsolete infrastructure and an increasing population for the water crisis. An International Committee of the Red Cross study provides recommendations to increase water delivery for the city.
Beer drinkers in a small community in Democratic Republic of Congo overcame their suspicion and fear of people with albinism because of a special beer. The brewer has albinism, but her recipe for mandale, a local fermented drink, has helped her build a successful business.
Many street food vendors handle money and food with ungloved, unwashed hands, and their customers often don’t wash their hands, either. Officials say poor hygiene contributes to outbreaks of diarrhea, cholera and other diseases and health issues.
In a village north of Goma, health organizations are struggling to counter a cholera epidemic brought on by an extended dry season and lack of rainfall. Their efforts – including clean water deliveries and community education – have made an impact, but residents say future outbreaks are inevitable unless the government addresses the village’s lack of water infrastructure.
The cost of a unit of blood in DRC could soon top $100, if people don’t begin donating regularly, health officials warn. One woman formed an organization to urge women in particular to give blood to help replenish local blood banks.