Congo, Kinshasa (MNN) — Cholera and measles are creating havoc in a nation that's just now beginning to recover from the effects of civil war. Epidemics of both diseases in the Democratic Republic of Congo highlight a nation in recovery. As cholera and measles sicken thousands in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is providing desperately-needed flight services to assist medical agencies in their efforts to combat these deadly diseases.
Program Manager for MAF's West Congo region Ron Wismer says Congo has been at war basically since 1998. As a result, "A lot of the vaccination programs have fallen through. Epidemics like measles are occurring and will occur if we don't get vaccinations going. Fortunately, we've been able to reach remote areas with vaccinations and stop some of the spread."
Wismer says MAF has been able to serve 100,000 people in southern Congo with the measles flights. He says they're also flying cholera flights into northern Congo. Wismer says their flights help in cholera education. "We've hauled a lot of soap and a lot of chlorine, and of course a lot of personnel as well to help them reach these remote areas and teach people how to properly clean their water."
Since cholera is preventable by safe water practices and proper hygiene, these flights are vital. Wismer says MAF is key to some regions. "We've been doing about two to three flights a week to the Bolobo region–particularly the Bolobo airstrip–because Bolobo is a strip that can only be reached by our smaller aircraft."
A measles epidemic has threatened the DRC for the past nine months. MAF, a faith-based relief organization that brings aid to needy people in remote areas of the world, has been flying medical workers and supplies into the areas most affected.
In the past month, MAF has carried some 100 medical staff and 14,000 pounds of vaccines and medical supplies to support 24 mobile clinics that Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF) has launched to fight measles.
Since most of the organizations they're serving are secular, Wismer says the pilots serve a dual purpose in the fight against these diseases. "The pilots are the front-line evangelists. They're trying to help people understand that we're not just doing this for the humanitarian aspect, but the spiritual aspect of helping the whole person." In this case, MAF wants to help them understand their need for Christ.
More pilots are needed to help in areas like the DRC. If you're a pilot and feel led by God to join them, click here.