Polio kills more than 250 in the Democratic Republic of Congo

A cholera outbreak present in four provinces across the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed more than 250 people since March.

The World Health Organization said that measures taken to stem the outbreak seemed to not be effective, according to AFP.

"On Monday evening the number of cases stood at 3,729, with 254 deaths," Dr. Ayigan Kossi a WHO physician based in Kinshasa, said, AFP reports.

The epidemic began in the northeast of the country before spreading consistently westward towards the capital. The first cases reported in Kinshasa province appeared last month. The city of Kinshasa has a population of about nine million people, many of whom live in unsanitary conditions.

To date, nine people have died in the capital, despite measures instituted by public health officials to stop the epidemic, including the sterilization of boats in Kinshasa’s river ports, according to AFP.

In Bololo in the Bandundu province, a lack of knowledge about cholera among health workers and continued contact with victims’ bodies has served to fuel the spread of the epidemic. In several provinces of the country, the outbreak of cholera has coincided with a measles epidemic, serving to place further strain on a health system already devastated by years of conflict and neglect.

The outbreak was officially announced in April and immunization campaigns are being supported by the WHO, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders and the Ministry of Health of the DRC, according to Reuters.