Democratic Republic of the Congo: Our Impact

 {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.

 {Photo credit: MSH}Baby Ilunga with his mother, Ruth Mukadi.Photo credit: MSH

Young children at 10 community care sites already benefiting from new study In 2012, malaria was the leading cause of death for children under the age of five in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), accounting for 18 percent of under-five deaths.

{Photo Credit: Warren Zelman}Photo Credit: Warren Zelman

Each year, nearly 300,000 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Approximately 7.6 million children do not live to see their fifth birthday. Most of the major direct causes of maternal and child mortality are preventable. MSH's maternal and child health interventions begin before pregnancy, with integrated family planning and HIV services, and continue through the life of the child.

 {Photo credi: Warren Zelman}Democratic Republic of the Congo.Photo credi: Warren Zelman

We spoke with Management Sciences for Health (MSH)’s Beth Yeager, MHS, Principal Technical Advisor, Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) program, and Chair, Maternal Health Supplies Caucus, Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, about MSH’s global technical leadership on improving access to maternal health medicines and commodities. MSH serves as an active member of the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children (UNCoLSC) and the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition. Beth Yeager

 {Photo credit: International Rescue Committee}Donors give blood in Uvira.Photo credit: International Rescue Committee

When 20-year-old Christine* gave birth at the health center of Kabinda in Uvira in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), she suffered from a ruptured uterus during delivery. The nurse referred her to the Uvira General Referral Hospital (GRH), where health workers confirmed that her life was in danger due to blood loss.

 {Photo credit: Overseas Strategic Consulting, Ltd.}A community health worker facilitates an educational session on family planning methods.Photo credit: Overseas Strategic Consulting, Ltd.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ranks among the top 20 countries with the highest death rates of mothers and children, often due to health complications resulting from poor family planning and lack of birth spacing. In the Kole health zone, the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded DRC Integrated Health Project (DRC-IHP) is addressing this challenge through the grassroots Champion Community approach.

{Photo credit: Mark Tuschman}Photo credit: Mark Tuschman

Malnutrition is an underlying cause of 45 percent of deaths in children under the age of five worldwide and leaves 165 million children stunted, compromising cognitive development and physical capabilities. Chronically malnourished children are, on average, nearly 20 percent less literate than those who have a nutritious diet. Thus, malnutrition can shape a society's long-term health, stability, and prosperity.

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