Thanks to our partners, Reinvention Wheels, Inc. and USAID, we can now provide Gender-Based Violence (GBV) prevention and treatment services in remote areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We have just received a generous donation of 100 bicycles and safety helmets to assist in providing medical, psychological, social, legal, and economic services for GBV survivors. With the addition of these bicycles, volunteers can now easily provide services in remote areas inaccessible by car.
“We are tremendously grateful to Reinvention Wheels for providing this vital tool in helping us reach even more survivors”, said Jim Campbell, the International Medical Corps’ DRC County Director.
More than 20 years of fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo has led to millions of deaths, pervasive sexual violence, and a collapse of the health care system. In 2006, the World Health Organization ranked Congo 188th out of 190 countries for medical care and OxFam estimates that in some areas 75% of the population doesn’t have access to basic health care.
Ongoing fighting has exacerbated the problem, leading to widespread displacement in eastern Congo. For many women in Congo each day is a struggle to survive, with a critically high maternal mortality rate and widespread sexual and gender-based violence.
In the midst of the challenges, International Medical Corps is working to ensure that the women throughout these unstable regions receive care.
International Medical Corps supports health facilities in some of the most remote areas, serving communities that would otherwise lack medical care. The 41 medical facilities we support reach a total of 242,087 people.
Between April and June:
In addition, our teams distributed 1,274 long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets to prevent malaria to pregnant women during their prenatal care visits.
Your support has helped us provide lifesaving services to mothers in Congo, not only meeting their immediate medical needs but offering them and their children the chance for a health future.
Right now, there is a serious medical crisis happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the worst maternal mortality rates in Africa, 1,100 out of 100,000 mothers will die due to pregnancy related causes.[i] Compare this figure with the United States, where 11 mothers will die for the same number of pregnancies.
In DRC, International Medical Corps’ goal is to provide comprehensive health care to mothers and their children that would otherwise be completely unavailable. This includes making sure that mothers can see a doctor or skilled health professional during and after their pregnancy. Since January, our staff in DRC arranged 2,270 checkups with expectant mothers, with an additional 920 visits post-pregnancy.
In North and South Kivu, we also continue to support 62 health centers and 6 hospitals, providing medical supplies, personnel training, and referral and transfer of patients in need of special care.
One of the most horrific and widely reported aspects of the civil war in DRC is the use of Gender Based Violence (GBV) as a weapon of war. In addition to caring for survivors, International Medical Corps believes a holistic approach, one which engages the entire community, is the best way to prevent this type of violence. That’s why we prioritize education, training, and advocacy in the fight to end GBV.
This December, International Medical Corps recognized 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence with activities to raise awareness in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition to walking in a march organized by La Commission Territoriale de Lutte Contre les Violences Sexuelles in Uvira, our staff conducted trainings and education sessions on GBV awareness and prevention.
Our staff trained 79 members of eight community-based organizations in Baraka, Nundu, and Ruzizi on supporting survivors of GBV. Topics ranged from processing referrals to providing emotional support for survivors. In Chambucha, we organized activities that encouraged girls and boys to work together equally, such as mobile cinema in schools and a football tournament.
“Positive engagement of youth is an important strategy for GBV prevention and response,” says Micah Williams, Gender-Based Violence Specialist for International Medical Corps. “Many young people have been affected, both directly and indirectly, by violence in DRC, and special efforts must be taken to provide appropriate support for affected children and youth. Young people are also still developing ideas of gender and patterns of behavior that are more engrained in adults. Early exposure to concepts of gender equality, human rights, and nonviolence will allow youth to form positive ideas and behaviors that will shape the future of DRC.”
Our work in DRC is possible because of your generosity. Thank you so much for supporting International Medical Corps!
[i] WHO 2010 Country Statistic
With your help in 2010, we were able to reach even more mothers and children with lifesaving medical care. Please take a momement to watch what we've accomplished together over the past year.Thank you!
In October our staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo marched with 250 International Trade Union Confederation members from more than 160 countries as well as female members of Congolese unions, and civil society groups. The mass rally aimed to denounce sexual and gender-based violence, and demand social justice for women in the DRC, where sexual violence has been employed as a weapon of war spreading fear, exacerbating ethnic tensions, and destabilizing communities. The rally in Bukavu was a sea of color, with women from all over DRC and the world joining in the march. Dressed in bright clothes made especially for the occasion out of fabric covered in slogans, the participants demanded an end to SGBV. Young and old marched together as hundreds of women filled the streets to make their voices heard. Since 1999, International Medical Corps has worked tirelessly to care for the countless women affected by the ongoing violence and unrest in the DRC. In many remote areas of North and South Kivu Provinces, International Medical Corps is the only international NGO that has maintained a permanent presence. Today, International Medical Corps supports 85 health facilities in the DRC, including 41 in North Kivu, 42 in South Kivu, and two in Maniema. Our work providing care for women in DRC is possible because of our wonderful supporters – your generosity means the world to us.
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Resource Development Officer