A doctor in DRC: Preparing for the Bush

Ludvig has recently returned from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While there, he kept a diary...

Briefing with a map

As I write this, there is a curfew for MSF staff in Kinshasa. We get reports that there is turbulence in the streets, with outbreaks of violence. This, after negotiations between the president and the opposition today collapsed again (for the umpteenth time - I don't know). The political situation here is impossible to monitor and changes very fast.

MSF doctor Ludvig's bedroom in Kinshasa is dominated by the large mosquito net over his bed.
Ludvig's bedroom in Kinshasa.  Photo: Ludvig Bolinder / MSF.
DRC is large. Pretty huge actually. It covers an area greater than half of Europe. And it becomes even bigger because the infrastructure here is almost non-existent.
It's said there are only about 100 miles of paved road in all of DRC. The street outside my window, which lies in the finest parts of Kinshasa, is a mix of sand, gravel, rocks, garbage, chickens and poor people lying in the dust. It's hard for the big jeeps to get around. How things look outside Kinshasa, I can only imagine. But people in the PUC tell me that getting the team to the people who need them can sometimes take up to five days of travelling - by air, car, boat, motorcycle and on foot.
A map of Congo
Briefing with Doctor Lisette. Photo: Ludvig Bolinder / MSF.
PUC stands for Pool d'Urgence Congo. Every week the PUC monitors the number of cases of specific diseases (such as measles, cholera, yellow fever, hemorrhagic fevers, meningitis) and when the number of cases is higher than expected (an outbreak), they send a team to deal with the disease and to prevent secondary cases.
On my first day on-site, on Thursday, we had reports of a measles outbreak in the north of the country - we will get there early next week. It looks like I'll be the only doctor from MSF. The only doctor and the only international staff member.
Ah, now I just got a text message that the curfew is lifted. That means tonight's activity is saved: yoga! Apparently a girl from Belgium gives free yoga classes every Tuesday evening. I'll go there so they will have something to laugh at.