WHO, Italy Send 10 Tonnes of Medical Aid to DRCongo

by VR Sreeraman on Nov 1 2008 11:44 AM

Italy and the World Health Organisation will send 10 tonnes of medical aid to those affected by the violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN agency said Friday.

"Intensive efforts are needed to prevent the spread of communicable diseases among the fleeing population and to treat the physical trauma caused by the violence," said the WHO in a statement from its Geneva office.

The WHO had already provided emergency medical supplies from its stocks to aid agencies operating in Goma, the main city in east of the country, and helped renew blood supplies at its main hospital, said the statement.

The new shipment would be enough to treat 60,000 people for a month including drugs and supplies to treat diarrhoeal diseases, malaria and trauma injuries, the statement added.

The International Monetary Fund and the UN agency for children UNICEF recently expressed concern about the risk of cholera and measles epidemics among the tens of thousands fleeing the violence in the Nord-Kivu region.

The WHO said the other health concerns in the region included malnutrition due to limited access to food, respiratory infections caused by the lack of access to proper shelter and the threat of sexual violence.

Some 220,000 people have been forced from their homes in the latest fighting, bringing to more than a million the total number of displaced in the east of the country.

At least 45,000 people have fled towards Goma after an offensive by rebels of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) that routed government forces in Nord-Kivu province.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR has said it has received reports that camps for displaced people further north in Nord-Kivu have been looted and burned by rebels.