Implementing the Helping Mothers Survive and Helping Babies Breathe Approaches in Bukavu and Luiza
In its National Health Development Plan 2016-2020, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) aims to reduce maternal deaths per 100,000 live births from 846 to 548 and to reduce infant and child mortality from 104 to 60 deaths per 1,000 births. However, the 2013-2014 Demographic and Health Survey indicates that Congolese women run a 1 in 18 risk of dying from maternal causes during their child-bearing years. Infant mortality is estimated at 28 deaths per 1,000 live births. Analyses conducted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) highlighted bottlenecks in service provision in all interventions—inventory outages, weak organization of reference, and lack of competent human resources. In response to this latest finding, the MOH has introduced competency-based training that integrates interventions such as family planning, essential obstetric care, and essential and emergency newborn care, which lasts between 16 and 21 days. The complexity of this training, the prolonged absence of health care providers, and the difficulty in assimilating several skills at the same time made large-scale extension difficult. IHPplus, seizing the opportunity to use short-term training packages to target the leading causes of maternal death, coupled the implementation of two approaches, the Helping Mothers Survive (HMS) Program and the Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) Program, to better integrate maternal and neonatal care.