Democratic Republic of the Congo: Our Impact

{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.

 {Photo credit: MSH}Marie Miambokila Mumba and her newborn twins at the Luiza General Referral Hospital in Kasaï Occidental, DRC.Photo credit: MSH

Marie Miambokila Mumba, 38, had a smooth pregnancy and attended all of her scheduled prenatal consultations at the Luiza Tutante Health Center, located in Kasaï Oriental province in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). When Mumba was ready to give birth at the Luiza General Referral Hospital in August 2014, her baby was delivered safely by skilled birth attendant Judith Kambuyi.

 {Photo credit: Amélie Sow-Dia/MSH}Fortunée Kabeya and her newborn baby at the Muaka Health Center in Mwene Ditu, August 2014.Photo credit: Amélie Sow-Dia/MSH

It is 1 p.m. in Mwene Ditu, a crossroads town in the province of Kasaï Oriental, the nexus of diamond mining in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Fortunée Kabeya* has just given birth at the Muaka health center. Céline Bukasa, the head nurse, assisted Fortunée’s delivery, and mother and baby are doing well.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman, DRC.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman, DRC.

A project of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) administered by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Supply Chain Management System (SCMS) is led by the non-profit Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM)—a partnership of John Snow, Inc. (JSI), and Management Sciences for Health (MSH). The Supply Chain Management System (SCMS) established a local field office in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in early 2013. As one of the most recent additions to the SCMS global portfolio of countries, the local staff of five has sought to scale up and produce results extremely quickly. SCMS’ primary mandate in the DRC is to supply the HIV commodities needed by six PEPFAR implementing partners that are spread across four of the DRC’s eleven provinces. These six implementing partners provide care to some of the most at-need populations within the DRC. They have set ambitious treatment targets and depend on SCMS to deliver the commodities that will allow them to meet those needs. The commodities supplied by SCMS range from antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to antibiotics needed to treat opportunistic infections, lab equipment, supplies and test kits. This year, 22,514 Congolese people will receive treatment with ARVs supplied by SCMS.

 {Photo credit: MSH staff.}A lab technician in the DRC’s Kasaï Oriental Province who received training on HIV-TB co-infection.Photo credit: MSH staff.

People living with HIV or tuberculosis (TB) face many health challenges, but when infected with both of these diseases, their struggles multiply, because each disease accelerates the other’s progression. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is ranked eighth among countries reporting the highest rates of HIV/TB co-infection. To manage the burden of care at such a level, countries must have well-trained staff in a health system that takes an integrated approach to care and treatment.

 {Photo credit: MSH}Thérèse Ashingo proudly shows off her healthy son after two months of exclusive breastfeeding.Photo credit: MSH

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, child malnutrition is a leading cause of infant and child mortality. In the Kole health zone in Kasaï Oriental province, 23 children were diagnosed with severe malnutrition between February and April 2013, with two infants under six months old dying from the condition. Community health workers have recently made strides in addressing this issue, with the support of the USAID-funded Integrated Health Project (DRC-IHP), led by Management Sciences for Health with partners the International Rescue Committee and Overseas Strategic Consulting.

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