Democratic Republic of the Congo: Our Impact

{Photo: MSH staff}Photo: MSH staff

For the first time in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 13 life-saving health commodities for mothers and children have been included in the National Health Development Plan (NHDP). These medicines are recommended by the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children (UNCoLSC).

 {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 Credit: MSH Staff}Photo Credit: MSH Staff

Management Sciences for Health has been working closely in collaboration with the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) on the introduction of the new dispersible pediatric fixed-dose combination. Through MSH’s projects across identified high-burden countries, we have been providing assistance on updating treatment guidelines and essential medicines lists, registration of the reformulated product, financing and reprogramming grants, quantification, and training healthcare providers on the medicine and its use. 

 {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.

 {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.

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