Congo-Kinshasa: Congolese Nobel Laureate Quits COVID-19 Team Over Frustrations

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege

A famed doctor from the Democratic Republic of Congo who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 has resigned from the country's team which was formed to fight Covid-19.

Dr Denis Mukwege said he was quitting a special commission for fighting Covid-19 in South Kivu citing lack of facilitation from the government.

In a resignation note released on Wednesday, Dr Mukwege said lack of laboratories for testing the virus had frustrated the work of the team, forcing him to quit.

The team had been waiting for more than two weeks to receive the results of the samples sent to the national biomedical research institute in Kinshasa, he said, which "constituted a major handicap for our strategy." he noted.

LOOSE PREVENTION MEASURES

"On the other hand, a loosening of prevention measures by our population, a denial of reality, the impossibility of enforcing restrictions, the porosity of our borders with the massive return of thousands of compatriots from neighbouring countries without having been quarantined have decreased the effectiveness of our strategy," he added.

Dr Mukwege earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018, alongside Iraqi Yazidi activist Nadia Murad, for campaigns against sexual violence.

In the DRC, Dr Mukwege is famed for his surgeries on sexually violated women from the Congolese civil war.

RESIGNATION A BLOW

His resignation from the special health commission could strike a blow to the entire national response team led by Dr Jean-Jacques Muyembe, another famed medical researcher in the Congo.

His team, however, has been on the spotlight ever since Covid-19 struck.

The country was on Wednesday already approaching 100 deaths from the coronavirus.

DRC has 96 cases of death to date.

The pandemic, which has already infected more than 4,390 people, is on an exponential curve in 10 of the 26 provinces of the DRC.

At the technical secretariat for the Covid response, the team continues to sound the alarm.

The response team recently recorded two deaths among its staff in Kinshasa.

Dr Mukwege nevertheless said he will continue to make his "intellectual contribution in the fight against the pandemic in the province of South Kivu".

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