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Doctors due in diamond fields to identify killer disease


KINSHASA, 12 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - A three-man team of doctors is due in a remote diamond mining area of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday to try to identify a respiratory disease that has, so far, killed 23 miners and infected 997 others; the Maniema provincial medical inspector, Dr Kasogo Mulamba, told IRIN.

"The medical team is made of one MSF-Belgium doctor, one from Merlin and one from the government," he said on Friday.

They arrived in the Maniema town of Punia on Thursday with other colleagues and formed three separate teams. Mulamba said the first group was already on its way to the mining area around the village of Libaku Ya Suka; the second is going in the neighboring zones within a 200-km circumference around the village; and the third team will remain in Punia in order to take initiate measure to protect area residents against the disease.

The disease outbreak occurred near Libaku Ya Suka, 84 km northeast of Punia where 10,500 miners recently started mining diamonds, the spokeswoman for the UN Mission in DRC, Rachel Eklou, said on Wednesday.

[DRC: Unidentified fever kills 12 diamond miners in Maniema, OCHA says]

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