Nobel Peace laureate Dr Denis Mukwege on 30th April resigned as head of a local task force fighting Covid-19 in eastern DRC in frustration at the government’s response to the crisis.
*He said a lack of coordinated action had crippled his work. Please note that a statement which is circulating on social media stating that Dr Mukwege resigned because he was asked to diagnose every illness as covid-19 and every death to be registered as covid-19 death is false.*
Below is the full statement by the Nobel Peace laureate.
On March 30, 2020, I was appointed, by the Governor of the province of South Kivu, Vice-President of the Multi-sectoral Commission and president of the Health Commission established for the response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the province of South Kivu.
After two months of work, with the support of local national and international experts, we set up a response strategy which we explained during a press conference on April 11, 2020. Prevention and response actions in charge of the patients, carried out according to this strategy, made it possible to contain the spread of the Coronavirus in the Province for several weeks.
Two major difficulties prevented us from effectively applying our strategy:
On the one hand, the impossibility of having in our province of RT ‐ PCR allowing to quickly confirm the diagnosis of Covid +. The time required, of more than two weeks, to receive the results of the samples sent to the INRB in Kinshasa, constituted a major handicap for our strategy based on “testing, identifying, isolating and treating”.
On the other hand, a loosening of prevention measures by our population, a denial of realities, the impossibility of enforcing barrier measures, the porosity of our borders with the massive return of thousands of compatriots from neighbouring countries without having been quarantined, decreased the effectiveness of our strategy.
To these two factors are added organizational weaknesses and consistency between the different teams responsible for the response to the pandemic in South Kivu.
To date, in view of the influx of patients affected by the Coronavirus in the hospitals of Bukavu, it seems undoubted that the disease is present in the city. We are therefore at the start of an exponential epidemiological curve and we can no longer apply a strategy that would only be preventive.
I, therefore, decided to resign from my duties as Vice ‐ Chairman of the Multi-sectoral Coronavirus Response Committee in our province and Chairman of the Health Commission, in order to devote myself entirely to my medical responsibilities and to treat this influx of patients at Panzi Hospital.
Concerning the continuity of our action, I am convinced that HE the Minister of Health and the Provincial Health Division will be able to ensure the implementation of the strategies initiated together.
I will continue to make my intellectual contribution to the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic in our province.
In this ordeal for our population and for all of us, I will always be alongside the people and the Governor of the Province.
Source – Dr Denis Mukwege.