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MSF Says Number Of Annual Malaria Cases Treated In DRC Has Tripled Since 2009

Ahead of World Malaria Day on April 25, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Tuesday said the number of malaria cases it has treated in the country “more than tripled to 155,000 last year from two years previous,” Reuters reports (Hogg/Felix, 4/24). “In 2009, MSF’s teams treated more than 45,000 people with malaria” in DRC, with the total increasing to more than 158,000 in 2011, the Guardian notes, adding, “So far this year, more than 85,000 people have been treated.” According to the newspaper, “The agency said the rise was particularly alarming because of a high number of severe malaria patients requiring hospital care and urgent blood transfusions due to anemia. It has deployed additional emergency medical teams in four provinces but is unable to respond in all affected areas.”

Though “the reasons for the trend are not clear,” MSF said renewed violence among militia groups and over-taxed health care systems are inhibiting access to malaria prevention and treatment services, the newspaper reports (Smith, 4/24). In addition, a combination of swampy living conditions and poor drainage provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes, according to MSF official Corry Kik, Reuters notes. “Malaria is the leading cause of death in the DRC, killing nearly 300,000 children under five every year,” the news agency writes (4/24).