DRC: Country Profile
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is located in central Africa and is the second largest country in Africa with a population of over 89 million people. The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) is a multilateral effort to help countries including DRC better prevent, detect, and respond to the threats of emerging epidemics and diseases. In 2017 and since, GHSA stakeholders have focused on several zoonotic diseases, working to improve risk communication, community engagement, coordination, and surveillance. Several outbreaks of Ebola Virus Disease around the country have been contained through coordinated efforts supported by GHSA and the government of the DRC.
Priority Zoonotic Diseases (PZD)
Avian influenza is an infection by an influenza virus that can affect almost all species of birds, wild or domestic. It can be highly contagious, especially in chickens and turkeys, and can lead to extremely high mortality, especially in factory farms. The avian influenza virus sometimes infects other animal species, including pigs.
Ebola: Ebola virus disease (EVD) is an infection caused by a virus of the filovirus family to which the Marburg virus also belongs. Humans are infected either by direct contact with infected bats (a rare event), or by handling infected animals found dead or sick in forests (a more frequent event). Human-to-human transmission is also possible and occurs through direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or biological fluids of infected individuals.
Monkeypox is a viral disease that primarily affects animals such as rodents or non-human primates but can be transmitted to humans. The disease is transmitted through respiratory droplets, close contact with lesions or bodily fluids, or contaminated materials and causes a variety of symptoms including fever and rash. In the same family as smallpox, smallpox vaccines offer some protection against monkeypox.
Rabies remains a widespread disease across the globe, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths worldwide each year. It is a viral infection transmitted by contact with saliva of infected mammals, mainly through bites and scratches and in most places, commonly through dogs. Children are particularly vulnerable to rabies.
Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is a viral infection that spreads most commonly to humans from livestock or wild animals via mosquitoes. It can also be spread through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids of animals such as sheep, goats, or camels. RVF can cause spontaneous abortion in animals, and assisting with abortions is a common exposure. Farmers, abattoir workers, and veterinary or laboratory staff are high risk groups. Mosquito control and wearing protective equipment when exposed to blood or bodily fluids of infected animals are the main prevention methods.
Salmonellosis is an infection caused by the bacteria salmonella which typically spreads through contaminated food or contact with infected animals such as poultry, swine, cattle, rodents, or reptiles. Salmonellosis causes diarrhea, fever, and vomiting and is typically more severe in children or the elderly.
Yellow fever: Caused by the yellow fever virus, the disease causes fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, nausea, and may lead to jaundice and hemorrhaging. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes as well as nonhuman primates. Prevention is mainly through vaccination of people at risk as well as mosquito control.
One Health Landscape
Currently there are eight key partners supporting One Health activities in DRC.
Summary of existing Breakthrough ACTION research
In 2021, the Breakthrough ACTION team conducted formative, qualitative research to examine knowledge, perceptions, cultural practices, and other behavioral determinants of zoonotic diseases in DRC. Data were collected in 9 sites across 3 provinces in DRC and included 385 individuals through focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, and direct observation. The interview guides explored household behaviors among the general population, professional risk factors and prevention behaviors for livestock breeders, slaughterhouse workers, and veterinarians, as well as the larger communication environment.
Case study on SBC response
Findings will inform community engagement and other social and behavior change interventions as well as coordination efforts.