Democratic Republic of Congo: what to pack for a mobile response

Democratic Republic of Congo: what to pack for a mobile response

María Blanco, nurse for MSF, shares the challenges faced by her team providing aid in the rural areas of Kasai:

Monday, November 6, 2017 — In the Kasai province of Democratic Republic of Congo, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) sends teams on four wheels to rural areas to reach the most remote and inaccessible communities. I’m team leader of this mobile response.

Our goal is to get the health system in these areas back up and running after it was destroyed  in the violence of the past year.

Teams travel for days at a time to reach remote villages. They have to carry everything they might need in these inhospitable forested areas; they may have to cross rivers and broken bridges and navigate dirt roads full of potholes. They have to be able to saw through treetrunks or remake a dirt road in order to get on their way.  

Each team carries a ‘magic box’ containing enough food and tools to survive for up to a week, including everything necessary in case they have to sleep outdoors.

They also carry basic medical kits for treating malaria, child malnutrition, skin infections and diarrhoea – all of them very common – so as to be able to provide consultations for communities who may not have received decent medical treatment for a very long time.

We aim to make local health centres functional again, but many have been looted or even completely destroyed. Those still standing need supplies of medicines, medical equipment, and in some cases chairs and tables.

But most important of all is that the vehicle is in a good condition, with its tank fully filled with 160 litres of fuel. Each team usually takes two vehicles, both for safety reasons and for space. One vehicle is mostly filled with supplies, the other with passengers. The MSF logo has to be very visible, both on the vehicle and on the passengers’ clothes. Once on the road, the team leader needs to stay in regular contact with the base.

Off we go! The mobile response begins…”

 

Photo Credits: Marta Soszynska/MSF