BLOG – Have you heard about the family kits, a worldwide innovation from the Democratic Republic of Congo? Meet some particularly isolated and vulnerable populations in the outskirts of Kinshasa, whose health depends on these kits.
An area without health care coverage
Situated 75 kilometres from the city centre of Kinshasa, the health zone of Nsele has around 465,000 inhabitants. Subdivided into 15 local health areas, the majority of them are covered by a minimum health care package.
Doctor Devos, the Medical Director of the zone, proudly explains that his health zone is a leading site for the reduction of mortality and morbidity of children less than 5 years old. Different strategies are in place:
- – Universal health coverage ;
- – Continuous health care in households ;
- – Good governance and community service ;
- – Capacity building of different service providers ;
- – Hierarchical structures of communication ;
- – Community involvement with activities.
The only one health area, which is not covered by the minimum health care package is the health area known as “Fleuve” (= river), where between 4,000 and 7,000 people live depending on the season. It takes nearly an hour by boat to reach the area from the shores of Nsele, and its population do not have access to any health care facility.
As a result, the family kits are distributed directly to households in order to combat maternal and child mortality.
Reaching the most isolated populations
Davin, who reports on the health area “Fleuve”, describes what is included in the three different kits that he distributes to households for which he is responsible:
“The PCIME kits are distributed to children from 0-6 months old. They include medicines, such as paracetamol, to treat fever, zinc, and some serum to treat diarrhoea. For older children, who are 6 to 23 months old, micronutrients are added to the kits to prevent anaemia (PCIMA kits). We also have childbirth kits, which we give to pregnant women.”
Proud of his community service, he brought us to meet Mama Angèle and her 5-month-old baby. The young mother explains that thanks to the kits her child no longer has diarrhoea. “I noticed a change in my baby’s health.”
Mama Angèle is not the only one to have benefitted from the kits to ensure the health of her child. In the health area “Fleuve,” two distributions were carried out over the course of the last few months through community support networks (June and August 2017): 1,142 PCIME kits were distributed, 845 kits with micronutrients and 138 childbirth kits.
A positive community dynamic
Doctor Devos, who accompanied us throughout the visit, considers the community support network as a hub for the small islands.
The community support network is not only responsible for the population’s health. They are also teaching families about the importance of birth registration and the schooling of children.
More information about the family kits
The DRC continues to confront extremely high rates of infant, child, and maternal mortality: 104 out of 1,000 live births and 846 out of 1000,000 live births in 2014 respectively.
The Accelerated Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality in the DRC tackles the weaknesses and difficulties that are causing the high child and maternal mortality rates in the DRC, as well as the poor availability of medication in the communities, and the low financial resources preventing adequate access to health care.
Funding the fight against mother and child mortality
The CAO4&5 programme of the Congolese government has been set up with the support of UNICEF, the World Bank, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Global Fund. For its implementation, UNICEF is supported by the European Union and, notably, Sweden.
Translated from French by Katherine Goulart
Typhaine Daems est consultante en communication à l’UNICEF RDC. Elle est en charge de la gestion des réseaux sociaux et du blog.
Typhaine Daems is a Communication Consultant at UNICEF in DRC. She manages the UNICEF DRC's social networks and blog.
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