Guidance

Democratic Republic of Congo: migrant health guide

Advice and guidance on the health needs of migrant patients from Democratic Republic of Congo for healthcare practitioners.

Main messages

If the patient is new to the UK:

  • explain to them how the NHS works
  • discuss how this compares to the healthcare system they’ve been used to

Ensure that all patients are up-to-date with the UK immunisation schedule.

Screen all new entrants (including children) from this country for tuberculosis (TB).

There is a high incidence of Multi Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Consider screening for hepatitis B, particularly among those who have recently arrived. Democratic Republic of Congo has an intermediate prevalence.

Consider screening for hepatitis C, because Democratic Republic of Congo has a considerably higher prevalence than the UK.

Ask about any travel plans the patient may have to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin, and see National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), or the Health Protection Scotland websites (TRAVAX and fitfortravel), for travel advice.

There is a high risk of malaria in some areas of Democratic Republic of Congo.

There is a risk of typhoid infection in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Find out more about children’s health.

Infectious diseases

Immunisation

Ensure that all patients, especially children, are up-to-date with the UK immunisation schedule. See Immunisation collection with complete schedules.

Tuberculosis

The incidence of TB in Democratic Republic of Congo is very high (>500 cases/100,000), and there is also a high burden of MDR-TB, so:

  • screen all new entrants, including children, for TB according to NICE guidelines
  • refer to TB services promptly if screening is positive
  • seek advice, if you are a local TB service, from the MDR-TB Clinical Advice Service before treating patients from Democratic Republic of Congo for TB
  • maintain long term vigilance for symptoms of TB even if initial screening is negative
  • be aware that TB is a notifiable disease

Sexually transmitted infections and HIV

Take a sexual history, and:

  • screen for STIs and HIV according to risk as specified in the UK national standards and guidelines
  • test all sexually active patients under the age of 25 for chlamydia

Democratic Republic of Congo has a low rate of HIV (≤1%), so:

  • offer and recommend an HIV test if the patient:
    • falls into a high risk group
    • is newly registering in a high prevalence area
  • be advised that national guidelines do not recommend routine consideration of HIV testing of infants and children who have recently arrived in the UK

Hepatitis B

Democratic Republic of Congo has an intermediate prevalence of hepatitis B, so:

  • consider screening for hepatitis B, particularly those who have recently arrived
  • offer screening for hepatitis B to all pregnant women during each pregnancy
  • immunise appropriately babies born to mothers who are hepatitis B positive, and follow-up accordingly
  • be aware that the UK has a selective immunisation programme for hepatitis B

Hepatitis C

Democratic Republic of Congo has a considerably higher prevalence of hepatitis C than the UK, so consider screening for hepatitis C.

Travel plans and advice

Ask opportunistically about any travel plans the patient may have to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin, and see National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), or the Health Protection Scotland websites (TRAVAX and fitfortravel), for travel advice.

Malaria

There is a high risk of malaria in Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly due to P. falciparum, so:

Typhoid

There is a risk of typhoid infection in Democratic Republic of Congo, so:

  • ensure that travellers to Democratic Republic of Congo are offered typhoid immunisation and advice on prevention of enteric fever
  • remember enteric fever in the differential diagnosis of illness in patients with a recent history of travel to-or-from Democratic Republic of Congo

Helminths

There is a risk of helminth infections in Democratic Republic of Congo, including:

  • schistosomiasis
  • lymphatic filariasis
  • soil transmitted helminthiasis

Women’s health

Reproductive health indicators

Reproductive health indicator UK Democratic Republic of Congo
Number of children per woman¹ 2 7
Use of contraception² 82% 31.4%

¹lifetime average; ²by woman of reproductive age or partner

No data are available on:

  • mammography screening rates
  • cervical cancer screening rates


Find out more about women’s health.

Nutritional and metabolic concerns

Anaemia

There is a high risk of anaemia in adults (estimated prevalence in non-pregnant women is >40%) and pre-school children (estimated prevalence is >40%), so:

  • be alert to the possibility of anaemia in recently arrived migrants, particularly women and pre-school children
  • test as clinically indicated

Vitamin D

Consider the possibility of vitamin D deficiency in people who may be at risk due to:

  • covering their body for cultural or religious reasons (lack of sunlight)
  • skin colour
  • diet (vegan or vegetarian)

Vitamin A

There is a high risk of vitamin A deficiency in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Iodine

People from Democratic Republic of Congo may be at risk of iodine induced hyperthyroidism due to excessive intake.

Country profile

Health indicators and health care

WHO Global Health Observatory has a summary of health indicators and health care in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Culture, politics and history

BBC News and The World Factbook provide background information on the culture, politics and history of Democratic Republic of Congo.

Languages

The main languages used in Democratic Republic of Congo are:

  • French (official)
  • Lingala (a lingua franca trade language)
  • Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili)
  • Kikongo
  • Tshiluba

Source: The World Factbook.


Find out about language interpretation.

Religions

Religion Population (%)
Roman Catholic 50
Protestant 20
Kimbanguist 10
Muslim 10
Other¹ 10

¹includes syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs

Source: The World Factbook.

Migration to the UK

There were over 19,000 people from Democratic Republic of Congo living in England and Wales at the time of the 2011 Census.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Published 31 July 2014
Last updated 25 October 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated and made editorial changes to meet GOV.UK style.
  2. First published.