In the month of June, we learned that the Katanga province is suffering through its worst measles epidemic since 2011. The disease is fatal in populations lacking access to the vaccine and is especially fatal in unprotected children. Another fatal disease, malaria, has also been in the headlines this month. Quinine injections are administered to treat the disease, however improper administration by “undertrained and overworked” health care professionals have lead to serious side effects. Patients have suffered neuromuscular impairment, skin damage, hearing loss, and long-term pain.
In political news, we learned that the Democratic Republic of the Congo might break up its provinces, but were left questioning, why? The policy was a part of the 2006 constitution but has yet to be implemented. Meanwhile, the DRC topped the 2015 Corruption Risk index and reasons for its number one spot include high levels of poverty and lack of institutions to combat bribery. Congolese youth leaders meeting to launch a campaign for democracy were forcefully arrested in March and are still being held in jail. They hoped to launch the Filimbi movement, a pro-democracy youth movement with support from the US embassy in Kinshasa. On top of all of this, President Joseph Kabila launched “consultations” ahead of polls which his opposition argues is a move to cling to power.
In financial news, the DRC was reviewed by the IMF and was found to have one of the highest domestic product growth rates in the world. The economy expanded 9.2 percent in 2014 and is expected to expand by 9.2 percent in 2015, says Norbert Toé who lead the team conducting the review. Meanwhile, the Church of England divested from Soco oil firm this month citing ethical concerns. The firm aims to drill for oil in Virunga National Park, a world heritage site and home to endangered mountain gorillas.
In human rights news, we learned that child labor contributes to cyclical poverty. Some work can aid in a child’s development, but often the need for children to help impoverished parents can create barriers to education, trapping them in a cycle of hardship. However, the DRC has taken steps to better the lives of its youth by recently launching a program to train victims of sexual abuse and former child soldiers. The program aims to help in the reintegration of former child soldiers.
Finally, in miscellaneous news, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the world’s producers of gourmet cheese. Descendants of Swiss cows brought over during Belgian colonial rule produced cheese first for Belgian monks in the 1970s. Production has grown since and so have jobs in cheese factories. In other news, the television show 24 is wildly popular in the DRC due to the show’s protagonist, Jack Bauer. Locals hoping to help the DRC by “making the impossible possible” take on the nickname Jack Bauer to invoke his uncanny ability to get things done. And finally, Jody Lukoki, a soccer player, returns to the DRC to play in the Africa Cup. He hasn’t returned to the country since his parents fled civil conflict in the then Zaire when Lukoki was 12 months old.