Community Mobilizes to Support Child Health Services in the DRC

September 5th, 2018 | News

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The villagers of Yatuto in the Isangi health zone of Tshopo province, DRC, know a thing or two about kids. Of an estimated population of 2,852, 539 are children under five years old in a country where the under-five mortality rate is 104 per 1,000 live births. Before 2016, the closest health center was 15 kilometers away and could only be accessed by boat on the Congo River. The care site in the community (locally called site de soins communautaire) was only able to provide treatment for malaria.

“Before MCSP, our sick children often died before they were able to reach the nearest health center. Now that we have the community care site, our sick children are seen earlier, and are much more likely to make a recovery. That’s why we decided to build a hut for our relais, so they can care for our children.” – Village chief Isaac Kitambo

In 2016, MCSP identified Yatuto as an ideal site to initiate the complete package of integrated community case management along with 118 other sites in the provinces of Tshopo and Bas- Uélé. The two volunteer community health workers in the village (called relais) received training and commodities from MCSP to provide treatment for pneumonia and diarrhea in addition to malaria. These three illnesses are the main killers of children under five in sub-Saharan Africa. MCSP also built the capacity of nurses from the closest health centers to carry out monthly supportive supervision of the community care sites in their catchment area to help ensure high-quality care and replenish their supplies when needed.

As a follow up to this training, Yatuto established a community action committee to monitor and support the community care site and boost demand for its services. It turns out the population needed no convincing. The villagers, thrilled that they no longer needed to paddle 15 kilometers to reach the closest health center, built the relais a small post to treat patients and store the medicines. The community ownership and pride in their site will help ensure its sustainability well after MCSP ends. Since January 2017, over 137,000 children have been seen at MCSP-supported facilities, of whom 24% were seen at community care 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.

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.

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