Flight aids tuberculosis response in the Democratic Republic of Congo

By August 20, 2010

Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) — According
to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) still has a hazard deadlier than its venomous

It's tuberculosis: one of the
leading causes of death in the country. The prevalence rate is so high that the DRC ranks 10th on the list of 22
countries in the world struggling against the disease.

Medications are the foundation of
tuberculosis treatment. Treating TB
takes much longer than treating other types of bacterial infections–about 9

Mission Aviation
Dan Carlson says traditionally, without a steady supply of medicine, there
was no recourse. "[Doctors] wouldn't even
treat them, because once you start the treatment, if you can't finish it, then it's
worse. So in the area just north of Lubumbashi, they hadn't treated
tuberculosis in a number of years."

MAF became a critical part of the solution,
flying a medical team that began working in Katanga–a district that has one of the highest rates
of TB in the region. The team began
testing people in March 2010 and found hundreds infected and dying with TB.

They immediately began treatment.  Dr.
Bill Clemmer, a missionary in DRC explained, "We received treatment for several hundred persons six months ago and
put a significant number on treatment."

However, that presented
another problem.   They had medicine to treat several hundred for
a full course, but there were still new infections coming in.   In debating their response, a timely answer
revealed itself.

Clemmer  shared, "We received the good word last month that an
emergency shipment of over 3 tons of medicine had arrived in the capital city
and was available to our team to treat those in this district…but of course
there are no roads or commercial access to the area; literally hundreds of
miles in the middle of nowhere."

That's where Carlson comes in. He flies the medicine where it needs to go,
enabling the medical staff to gain some ground against the deadly disease. "In the past, in some of these areas, they get
started and can't continue on, so the disease gets stronger. The way we've
helped is to keep that line of medicine going to these areas where they're
treating tuberculosis."

Carlson adds that it is exciting to
see how God connects tuberculosis, Caravan planes, and a love of flying to open
doors for the Gospel. "It gives chances
for a lot of the doctors who are believers to share their faith, and nurses who
have been trained in mission hospitals in how they can be a witness to the
people that they're working with [sic]."

Today, Carlson says, "A church
has been established, and they're maturing and taking up the work God has laid
on their hands."   

You can help. MAF is changing over to the more fuel-efficient
planes that run on jet fuel. There are many
prayer needs, too. Click here for details.

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