DR Congo announces end of Meningitis in Tshopo Province

Jean-Jacque Mbungani, Congo’s health minitser [Image: @jean-jacque/Twitter]
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has declared an end to the meningitis outbreak that erupted in the north-eastern Tshopo Province.

A total of 2662 cases and 205 deaths were recorded.

As a strategy of bringing the outbreak under control, the national and provincial health authorities with support from World Health Organization (WHO) mounted a robust response in a challenging context, swiftly setting up local health emergency management teams, bolstering disease surveillance, carrying out vaccination drives and providing medical care including through mobile clinics.

“Considering that there has been no contamination for several weeks and the infection rate has fallen below the alert threshold for two consecutive weeks, I am happy to declare the end of the outbreak of meningitis in the Banalia health zone in the Tshopo Province,” spoke health minister jean-Jacque Mbungani.

“Meningitis can cause devastating outbreaks. It strikes fast and is lethal,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

“Ending this outbreak under difficult circumstances and amid the COVID-19 pandemic is no mean feat by the national authorities. But we must invest more to better detect, prevent and lessen the debilitating impact of this disease.”

The malady is a serious infection, typically bacterial in nature, which is easily transmitted by airborne particles from bodily secretions.

Meningitis can lead to death within hours and remains a major public health challenge.

Meningitis outbreaks occurred in several DR Congo provinces in the past. In 2009, an outbreak in Kisangani infected 214 people and caused 15 deaths, a case fatality ratio of 8 percent.

Retrospective investigations suggested that the outbreak in Tshopo started in early June in two mining areas in Banalia health zone, 227 km north of Kisangani, the provincial capital.