Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo provides an opportunity for wildlife zoonotic disease surveillance at active wildlife-livestock-human interface areas in central Africa and presents several unique and promising opportunities for surveillance for wildlife zoonoses with pandemic potential. The DRC has experienced outbreaks of Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers, as well as endemic monkeypox transmission and a high prevalence of HIV. The high biodiversity of the Congo Basin and intensive hunting of wildlife in the region contribute to the high disease burden in DRC. Additionally, the DRC possesses extensive rainforest habitat known for the high degree of endemism and small mammal diversity, providing an exceptional opportunity to assess zoonotic pathogen potential in small rodent, bat, and primate species. Despite the wealth of biodiversity and intimate interaction of populations in these interfaces, DRC’s current capacity to conduct wildlife disease surveillance at a regional and national level is developing. Through Metabiota, the implementing partners, the National Institute of Biomedical Research and the Kinshasa School of Public Health, existing collaborations with government veterinary and livestock ministries, wildlife authorities, and human health professionals enable PREDICT to help fill the wildlife surveillance gap and expand surveillance to high-risk wildlife-livestock-human interfaces.
Country Coordinator: Prime Mulembakani, MD, MPH
Dr. Prime Mulembakani worked for 10 years as a physician in rural DRC before doing an internship in Anesthesia and Reanimation at the University Clinic of Kinshasa. In 1999, he was hired by the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) as the project manager of primary health care, in charge for supporting the Ministry of Health. In 2001, he joined the research program of the University of North Carolina in DR Congo as project manager, implementing several research studies in the field of HIV/AIDS in the army and among adolescents and youth in Kinshasa. After his Master degree in Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2006, he was hired by the UCLA-DRC program as the program director, where he led a study of the epidemiology of Monkeypox and other zoonoses in Central DRC, in collaboration with the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative. Dr. Mulembakani trained field staff in disease surveillance and data management and analysis. He became the DRC Country Coordinator of PREDICT in June 2010.