• Where We Work

    Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to face acute and complex humanitarian crises characterized by internal displacement and widespread insecurity. In 2020, protracted conflicts in the eastern part of the country and the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the already grim economic situation, preventing access to basic services. According to the World Bank, the mortality rate for children under-five remains one of the highest in the world at 85 deaths per 1,000 live births. Causes of death are often from preventable diseases such as malaria and upper respiratory infections. These problems are aggravated by high rates of malnutrition and lack of access to clean water. Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) also remains a significant problem, especially in the central and eastern provinces where conflict has destabilized the country for decades.

Since 2000, IMA World Health (IMA) has been a key partner in the DRC’s development and humanitarian response, working alongside the Congolese government, development partners, and local and international organizations to revitalize the health system, improve WASH outcomes and fight disease. Through long-standing relationships with the Ministry of Health and a robust faith-based network, IMA has provided direct assistance in 251 health zones, consistently and distinctively operating in the country’s most remote and challenging areas where successive armed conflicts and political instability have demanded creativity and unparalleled local partnership. With such expansive geographic coverage and enduring linkages with the government and local authorities, IMA’s long-term investment in the DRC is working to change the narrative and the trajectory of health care.

Project Highlights
Access to Primary Health Care (ASSP) and Access to Health Systems Support (ASSR)

During eight years of implementation, ASSP and its follow-on project ASSR improved the health of women, adolescents and children through support for disease prevention, delivery of health care and health systems strengthening. With funding from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the projects supported an estimated 9.7 million people across 52 health zones in five provinces, strengthening the health system by focusing on priority interventions such as the treatment of malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea; nutrition; obstetric and neonatal care; family planning; immunization; and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Using an approach based on the World Health Organization’s six pillars of health systems strengthening, the projects collaborated with the Ministry of Health (MOH) at all levels of service delivery, including the national and provincial levels and with focused support to health zones, health facilities and communities. The projects allowed for 2.23 million births to be attended by skilled health personnel at health facilities. More than 13 million nets were hung through bed net campaigns. 286 health centers were built, including 109 newly constructed health centers during ASSP. 4.78 million children were screened for malnutrition and over 1.35 million pregnant women and children under five received direct and intensive nutrition interventions. Additionally, the projects promoted and strengthened the open-source health data management system DHIS2 to improve data dissemination and to improve decision-making for health service delivery.

Counter-Gender Based Violence Program (Tushinde Ujeuri)

Funded by USAID and implemented by IMA, the Counter-Gender Based Violence Program (known locally in Swahili as “Tushinde Ujeuri”) establishes community-based safe houses and supports community groups in eastern DRC to prevent and respond to SGBV with the goal of reducing violence, combatting stigma and improving holistic care for survivors. Building on the highly successful USAID Ushindi program that IMA World Health managed from 2010-2017, Tushinde uses a holistic approach to meet survivors’ basic health needs, including urgent medical care and psychosocial counseling; legal support; and socioeconomic and livelihood activities such as village savings and loan associations, literacy circles, women’s empowerment groups and more to help survivors gain financial independence and social support. Together, these activities restore health, dignity, justice and opportunity to survivors and those affected by SGBV. To date, the project has reached close to 800,000 community members with tailored information regarding SGBV prevention and response; more than 10,000 people have received psychosocial support; and more than 2,000 have received post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) kits within 72 hours of rape.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis  (PEP)  Kit Procurement and Distribution

Funded by USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, IMA has procured and distributed PEP Kits in the DRC since 2018, improving the supply chain for PEP kits in 16 target provinces with a high prevalence of SGBV. IMA employs a multipronged supply and distribution strategy which increases access, reduces stock-out, and reduces cost per PEP Kit through a cost-effective local kitting solution. Through this holistic approach, IMA has cumulatively purchased, kitted and distributed over 93,000 PEP Kits. In addition to increasing access to PEP Kits and improving stock-out data, the project works to close the training gap of health care providers in SGBV survivor care, including the management of PEP Kits and PEP Kit supply chain, improved PEP Kit tracking and monitoring and strengthened coordination among partners.

Ebola: Strengthening Community Prevention, Response and Recovery

IMA’s leadership in the 2018-2020 Ebola outbreak response included delivery of nearly $1 million in personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline healthcare workers, the establishment of 78 Ebola triage and isolation units, and installation of water supply and hygiene systems at 164 health clinics. Funded by USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), IMA’s Ebola Virus Disease in North Kivu and Ituri: Strengthening Community Prevention, Response, and Recovery project supported community-based prevention and response in 25 of the most affected health areas, where more than 387,000 people were at risk. This included extensive training in community-based surveillance and training more than 1,000 religious and community leaders on Ebola messaging, a key strategy for building community trust.

Further, IMA and its partners ensured the continuity of essential health services during this severe, prolonged humanitarian crisis. IMA continued to support Ebola containment and recover with the Ebola Virus Disease in DRC: Strengthening Community Prevention, Response, and Recovery project. IMA led a comprehensive Ebola prevention and response program in 10 health zones of eastern DRC that addressed the issues of insufficient health services, lack of trust in the response and in communication around the disease, and inadequate prevention and control measures. IMA’s multi-pronged program addressed urgent needs to end the Ebola epidemic and prevent its resurgence through community outreach and mobilization, social and behavior change communications in schools and places of worship, health facility-based infection prevention and control, WASH and waste management in health facilities, and a “wrap around” strategy which provided critical training, supplies, and support to implement a primary healthcare (PHC) package addressing leading drivers of maternal and child mortality.

Health Care Services for Vulnerable Populations and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

With funding from USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), IMA worked with longtime local partner SANRU to provide primary health care services free of charge to IDPs and other destabilized populations within the conflict-affected Kasai provinces in DRC, with an estimated target population of 1,689,561. Health care services were provided in 125 health centers. In total, 1,000,039 new patients received treatment, and despite insecurity, many health targets were met or exceeded thanks to the resilience and dedication of health workers IMA has supported through ongoing health systems strengthening programs. Diagnosis and treatment of diarrhea was provided to more than 93,000 patients, to over 560,000 patients for malaria, and to more than 152,000 patients with acute respiratory infections.

Greater Kasai Health Care and Food Security Recovery Plan

With funding from USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), the Greater Kasai Health Care and Food Security Recovery Plan in DRC project addressed key challenges in health care and food security resulting from conflicts in Kasai and Kasai Central provinces of DRC. Its multi-pronged approach targeted key areas for recovery and resilience, including food security, health care and related water, sanitation and hygiene improvements. Collaborating with longtime local partner SANRU, IMA worked to restore the functionality of health facilities that were burned and/or looted, including replacing lost equipment and rehabilitating WASH infrastructure. The program also sought to build financial sustainability in the health system and lessen undue burden on already vulnerable populations with a gradual transition back to user fees for health services, as well as support vulnerable households facing food insecurity by assisting families in food production and linkages to markets.

Combating AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

With funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and with management by longtime partner SANRU, IMA worked toward universal access to malaria interventions. Working with the Congolese government, IMA supported the provision of over 19.7 million long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLIN). Use of IMA’s HUT: Hang up and Track tool increased accountability, enabling government and partners to pinpoint the GPS location for each household and visually aggregate coverage across geographic areas. IMA also supported the procurement and distribution of HIV/TB pharmaceutical products to selected health zones in eastern Congo.

ENVISION

The ENVISION project, funded by USAID and led by RTI International, aimed to empower governments of endemic countries to lead NTD control programs and scale up the delivery of preventive chemotherapy for the seven most common NTDs. In the DRC, as an implementing partner, IMA supported the DRC NTD control program to conduct annual MDA of three medications, reaching more than 500,000 people in six zones in northern Maniema Province in 2015-2016 and in three zones in 2017, with the goal of treating 80 percent of the population for LF, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis and STH. Transitioning with USAID’s updated strategy for DRC in 2018, IMA conducted rapid assessments and mapping surveys to find the extent of trachoma in suspected regions of the country.

A Congolese nurse with a mask and blue scrubs presents outdoors in front of a group of seated women who are in masks and many have infants on their laps

The Corus Effect

Founded in 1960, IMA World Health is part of Corus International, an ensemble of long-serving, global leaders in international development and humanitarian assistance committed to ending poverty and building healthy communities across Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Africa.

In addition to IMA World Health, the Corus family includes global aid and development organization Lutheran World Relief, U.K.-based technology for development company CGA Technologies, impact investing firm Ground Up Investing, and direct trade company Farmers Market Brands.

Alongside communities and local partners in fragile settings, our dedicated experts across our organizations integrate disciplines, approaches and resources to overcome global health challenges, develop productive and stable economies, improve resilience in the face of climate change, and respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises. We invest in solutions that are innovative, scalable, holistic and move the needle towards transformational change.

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