Bringing Child Health Care to the Other Side of the River: the Yatuto Community Care Site

September 5th, 2018 | Viewpoint

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Nesi is a 37-year-old mother of active three-year old twins, Daniel and Jean. They live in Yatuto village, nestled near one of the Congo River’s tributaries in Tshopo province of the northern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

When Daniel and Jean were born in 2014, they could not get health care becauseof the river and swamps that were natural barriers andbecause of their mother’s disabilities. As Nesi explained, “While I was pregnant, I was renounced by my husband and banned from my village of Yandali before coming here to Yatuto because I have leprosy. When I gave birth to my twins, my condition made it difficult to raise them or seek medical care because of financial problems and my disability.”

Her leprosy prevented her from paddlingdown river due to severe nerve damage to her hands and feet. This left her stranded.Villages like Yatuto were the communities that MCSP knew needed the most support. This is why, at the end of 2016, MCSP trained two community health workers (called relais communautaire or recosites) to implement the complete package of integrated community case management at Yatuto’s community care site as well as 19 others in the Isangi health zone.

Yatuto is one of the 119 community care sites supported by MCSP in the Tshopo and Bas-Uélé provinces. Each site is staffed by two volunteer recosites trained by MCSP. MCSP’s support for childhood pneumonia and diarrhea commodities and supplies is complemented by support from SANRU, a local NGO, for malaria commodities. These community care sites foster equity by bringing essential care for the most common childhood illnesses directly to remote communities. This model helps families with young children like Nesi’s have affordable, accessible healthcare and builds capacity at the local level.

“It is thanks to the community care cite in Yatuto that my two children are in perfect health today.” – Nesi

Nesi describes how she felt after first visiting and now routinely using the revitalized, expanded MCSP-supported site: “I very happy and very relieved by the presence of the Yatuto community care site. As you can see, my condition does not allow me to paddle down the river, nor walk long distances to the Yasangandiya health post or the Yalikina health center. But now, with the care site, my two sons have been cared for whenever they get sick.”

Nesi’s family is just one of thousands of beneficiaries that MCSP’s community care sites have assisted. Since January 2017, over 137,000 children have been seen at MCSP-supported sites. MCSP will continue to strengthen the quality of iCCM care and build capacity while integrating family planning and nutrition services into community care sites for the first time next year. The care that Nesi’s and the approximately 500 other children under five in her communitycan now receive on their side of the river is cause for tremendous prideand relief.

USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program supports high-impact health interventions with a focus on 25 high-priority countries with the ultimate goal of ending preventable child and maternal deaths within a generation. JSI leads the work in the areas of child health, immunization, and pediatric HIV. JSI staff also contribute to the program’s cross-cutting functions of measurement, monitoring, evaluation and learning, community health, and health systems strengthening, with a focus on the strengthening of routine health information systems and supply chain management.

Written by MCSP staff 

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