COVID-19 SPECIAL: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burkina Faso

A Congolese  woman washes her hands during humanitarian aid distribution A Congolese woman washes her hands during humanitarian aid distribution © Hugh Kinsella Cunningham/World Health Organization

In Focus by Silvia Luminati

1. Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Since the last update, conflict related violence continued to affect the health care system. In April, the Butsili Ebola Treatment Centre was attacked and four Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) DRC staff members were kidnapped by armed persons. The current situation in the East is worsening due to the presence of armed groups and a ravaging measles epidemic with an estimated 310,000 cases. MSF expresses concern about the capability of DRC to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as there is only one laboratory with a capacity of  100 analyses per day for a country of 80 million. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warns about the risk of a further spread of the epidemic due to the insufficient  health systems and large-scale movements caused by the violence, leading to the displacement of 200.000 persons, in addition to the already 1.2 million internally displaced persons. Despite the challenges, UNICEF continues to cater for the needs of the most vulnerable, especially children, and to ensure the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures.

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2. Burkina Faso

The presence of non-State armed groups in northern and eastern parts of the country and the threats and violence against health care workers are hampering the response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected nine out of the country’s 13  regions. The United Nations Children's Fund has adapted its ongoing programmes to ensure continuity in the delivery of its services to the most vulnerable children during the COVID-19 crisis, inter alia, by  improving their access to water and health care facilities. Medecins Sans Frontieres is providing primary health care  in areas affected by the violence while  more than 100 health facilities were closed, with others operating at minimum capacity. As the number of COVID-19 infections continues to rise, the jihadist insurgency resulted in  an estimated two million persons being in need of humanitarian assistance.

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