Integrated Health Project: Our Impact

{Photo Credit: MSH}A nurse in Manika prepares to conduct a group education session on antenatal care, as part of the awareness campaign that helped Brigitte access the care she needed.Photo Credit: MSH

A campaign to promote antenatal care becomes a lifeline for a teenager in need.

 {Photo Credit: MSH Staff}Nurses from Nseke discuss collected data during their monthly monitoring meetingPhoto Credit: MSH Staff

In the vast, logistically challenging Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), health data are often incomplete, unreliable, or submitted too late to be of use to public health authorities. Health data for the Nseke health area (Kanzenze health zone) seemed at odds with what the health zone management team actually saw on monitoring and supervisory visits. On paper, it looked like the local health facilities were performing well. But community feedback and verification told a different story.

{Photo Credit: MSH Staff}Noëlla and her healthy newborn baby at the Kabindula health center.Photo Credit: MSH Staff

Noëlla Bitisho, 29, gave birth to her third child at the Kabindula Health Center in December 2015. As with her first two deliveries, this one was challenging, and it looked like there could be complications and possible hemorrhage. Maternal mortality remains high in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), at 846 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to the most recently completed Demographic and Health Survey. Hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal death in the country.

 {Landry Serges-Malaba/MSH}Fallone and her daughter Gracia (right) with Therese, head nurse at Dipeta HospitalLandry Serges-Malaba/MSH

Fallone Ntumba, a radio journalist in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was 24 weeks pregnant when she was admitted to the Dipeta General Referral Hospital with a prematurely ruptured membrane. After three weeks in the hospital, Ntumba gave birth to a daughter. Baby Gracia weighed only three pounds, and Dipeta Hospital’s incubator had not worked in three years. Like many hospitals in DRC, they lacked the resources to replace or repair it when a part malfunctioned.

 {Photo credit: MSH}Justine Ngalula with her mother, Alphonsine, and baby brother Antoine. All three are eating better thanks to the nutrition information Justine learned in school.Photo credit: MSH

Twelve-year-old Justine Ngalula studies more than reading, writing, and arithmetic at her school in Nedekesha health zone. A community health worker trained by the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Integrated Health Program (IHPplus) has been educating teachers and students at Justine’s Catholic school on nutrition, emphasizing the importance of breastfeeding even though the students are young. Optimal breastfeeding, Justine learned, means starting immediately after birth, breastfeeding exclusively for six months, and continuing for  two years.

 {Photo: MSH}Mushombe, one of the babies saved by an HBB-trained staff, with his happy mother in Lemera General Hospital.Photo: MSH

Baby Mushombe entered the world through natural delivery—and immediately struggled to breathe. Respiratory distress could have cost him his life, as it does many infants in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where over 118,000 newborns died in 2012, according to the World Health Organization. Fortunately for Mushombe, he was surrounded by a team of midwives and assistants who had mastered Helping Babies Breathe® (HBB)—a resuscitation technique developed for environments with limited resources.

 {Photo credit: MSH staff.}A community health worker brings sputum samples she collected during home visits for testing at a laboratory.Photo credit: MSH staff.

Solange Bitondo coughed for a year, but never sought treatment from the Kinkindi health center less than a kilometer from her home. Instead, the 37-year-old mother of three consulted traditional healers, prayed, and self-medicated with herbs and medicines she found in the market. 

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}A community-based distributor provides a couple with information on family planning in Luiza.Photo credit: MSH staff

Carrying a backpack filled with counseling cards and contraceptives samples, Charlotte Kapinga visits households in the health area of Tutante in Luiza, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to raise awareness of the importance of family planning.

Narcisse Embeke, with his wife and two children. (Courtesy of Narcisse Embeke/MSH)Narcisse Embeke, with his wife and two children. (Courtesy of Narcisse Embeke/MSH)

"My mother taught me that I had to help others, because many children my age were dying." Narcisse Naia Embeke, 41, comes from a small community in South Ubangi in northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). When he was young, a measles outbreak hit his village almost every year between October and March and in those months, he remembered, an average of eight children died every day. Childhood death from the disease became so common that there was a saying, Narcisse remembered: "Until measles has passed, don't count your children."

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

In Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), childbearing is too often fatal for mothers as well as their newborns. The USAID-funded Integrated Health Project (IHP) is improving the odds for mothers and newborns by training health care providers with a package of low-cost, high-impact services, throughout 78 health zones in four provinces.

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