Did Congolese Doctor Resign Over COVID-19 Figures Manipulation?

Stay Home. Stay Safe. Save Lives.
#COVID19

Former governor of Kiambu county, William Kabogo, shared a tweet with the screenshot shared above with claims that Congo’s Dr Denis Mukwege had resigned from the country’s COVID-19 response team after being told to manipulate patient numbers.

See examples of similar claims as made on Twitter (here and here) and on Facebook that have gone viral over the past week.

Background

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has so far recorded 5,924 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 135 deaths and 856 recoveries (see the figures as they’re updated here).

Just like it has been observed across other countries in Africa, disbelief by the public towards the existence of the disease has been reported in the country, posing a challenge in curbing the spread of the virus.

Dr Mukwege is a gynaecologist and Pentecostal pastor, who founded and works at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, a city in Eastern DRC, where he specializes in the treatment of women who have been raped by armed rebels. His work against sexual violence as a weapon of war won him the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.

On March 30, 2020, he was appointed president and vice president of two task forces fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic in South Kivu province.

Verification

Results from a search for the keywords ‘Dr Mukwege resignation’ shows that the doctor did indeed resign. The same has been reported by The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Daily Nation and CGTN Africa.

A look through the doctor’s official Twitter account shows that he refuted the claims that have been circulating online with regard to the reasons for his resignation. In the tweet, he provided official sites through which statements are released.

The statement of his resignation can indeed be found on Panzi Foundation, one of the sites he mentioned. He cites two major difficulties in effecting the containment strategies the COVID-19 response team set out to implement in early April:

On the one hand, the impossibility of having in our province of RT ‐ PCR allowing to quickly confirm the diagnosis of Covid +. The time required, of more than two weeks, to receive the results of the samples sent to the INRB in Kinshasa, constituted a major handicap for our strategy based on “testing, identifying, isolating and treating.

On the other hand, a loosening of prevention measures by our population, a denial of realities, the impossibility of enforcing barrier measures, the porosity of our borders with the massive return of thousands of compatriots from neighbouring countries without having been quarantined, decreased the effectiveness of our strategy.

Therein, he also explains that the above difficulties are the reason for his resignation:

I therefore decided to resign from my duties as Vice ‐ Chairman of the Multi-sectoral Coronavirus Response Committee in our province and Chairman of the Health Commission, in order to devote myself entirely to my medical responsibilities and to treat this influx of patients at Panzi Hospital.

There is no mention of him being asked to manipulate the number of COVID-19 patients in the statement.

Earlier on in May, there were similar claims of coronavirus figures being manipulated, which DRC’s government officials denied.

Verdict

Dr Denis Mukwege did not resign over the manipulation of COVID-19 figures, thereby making the claim FALSE.

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Peris Gachahi

Peris Gachahi is a reporter at Africa Uncensored.She is passionate about human interest stories told through in-depth documentaries, data stories and digital storytelling.