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
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Resource Development Officer