THOUSANDS of Congolese displaced by rebel groups are at risk of contracting the deadly rabies that has killed at least 11 people. The disease is wreaking havoc in the conflict-torn North Kivu Province where a lack of capacity to respond to the disease has been noted.Dogs are the main source of human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99 percent of all transmissions to humans. In the Kibua territory, 75 cases, including ten deaths, have been recorded. Although provincial authorities have more than 1 000 doses of rabies vaccines for animals, it is still impossible to mobilise human rabies vaccines.
According to local government officials, due to the relative scarcity of the disease and the very high production costs of the rabies vaccine, no humanitarian partner would have established a contingency stock in the past. “They would not be able to send human rabies vaccine and serum to the province,” said an official. In the Masisi territory, the situation of the epidemic has become worrying following the spread of the disease to neighboring health areas. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that recent cases of dog bites were reported, with one death confirmed. North Kivu is the epicentre of the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which degenerated into conflict after president Joseph Kabila stayed in power despite the lapse of his term in 2016.