Delivering Medicines to Improve Maternal & Child Health in Dekese, DRC

DRC-IHP staff loads a truck for the journey to Dekese. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

The health zone of Dekese is located in a remote part of Kasaï Occidental province in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Approximately 600 km—327 miles—from the nearest city of Kananga, the roads leading to Dekese are in disrepair, overgrown with trees and blocked by rivers. These conditions complicate the daunting task of delivering critical medicines and other health care supplies to ensure the health of its 131,507 inhabitants, especially its mothers and children.  

This is the challenge of the USAID-funded DRC-Integrated Health Project (DRC-IHP), which is supporting in 11 health zones in Kasaï Occidental, including Dekese. In September 2012, the staff of DRC-IHP met this challenge with careful planning and persistence. A team journeyed from DRC-IHP’s field office in Luiza via truck and motorcycles for five days across a total of 1,260 km—782 miles—to reach the 18 health centers and general referral hospital in the health zone. They transported 2,000 liters of oil, 1,250 gallons of gasoline, as well as medicines and other supplies. When necessary, they cut down trees to make the roads passable, and loaded canoes with supplies and motorcycles to ford the rivers.

With the health facilities well provisioned for the next three months, the DRC-IHP team turned toward meeting some key health needs. In October and November, 5,600 children, from newborns to 11 months old, were given the pentavalent vaccine, sometimes called the “five-in-one” vaccine, which protects them against diphtheria, whooping cough and other illnesses. In addition, 2,686 women were vaccinated against tetanus.

"This is the first time I am seeing a partner ensure a regular supply of inputs, medicines and vaccines in an area that is difficult to access and where roads are almost non-existent,” said Dekese’s Chief Medical Officer, Apopagame Mobali. “This has enabled us to meet our health indicators related to vaccination, and I thank DRC-IHP for providing help to our community."

Led by Management Sciences for Health with partners the International Rescue Committee and Overseas Strategic Consulting, DRC-IHP is working to improve the basic health conditions of the Congolese people in 80 health zones in four provinces.

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