Strengthening Health Care in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
By Charles Redding, MedShare CEO & President
Astonishingly, over 400 million people worldwide lack access to essential health services typically delivered through primary and secondary health care. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 5 million children under the age of five who live in developing nations, die annually due to inadequate medical care. Potentially life-saving surgeries are cancelled simply due to the lack of basic supplies like sutures, clean needles, gauze, and alcohol wipes.
Nowhere is this humanitarian crisis more evident than in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DNC).
While the DRC is abundant with natural resources and a thriving ecosystem, decades of armed violence and displacement have left the nation impoverished and unable to adequately fund a struggling, understaffed, poorly maintained health care system. What’s more, with only certain regions of the country able to access health care, those living in medically underserved communities which also lack food and healthy drinking water are destined to be sicker and live shorter lives — further underscoring the DRC’s dire need of support and aid.
MedShare has a long history of addressing health care Inequities in the DRC by working with strategic partners like International Medical Corps (IMC) and the Coca-Cola Foundation, combining to donate over $16 million dollars in aid since 2004.
Recently, with underserved recipient health facilities in the DRC already strained due to COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks, MedShare, IMC and the Coca-Cola Foundation donated and delivered much-need medical equipment and supplies for wound care, eye care, surgical procedures, general inpatient care and outpatient consultations.
Focusing on seven hospitals in five provinces which serve as referral facilities for cases requiring higher levels of care, these hospitals were approved by the DRC Ministry of Health for inpatient care and outpatient follow-up of COVID-19 cases. With the Coca-Cola Foundation helping to fund the MedShare shipment, a handover ceremony took place on November 19th, 2021, at Virunga General Hospital in Goma. Distribution to all the remaining health facilities, including secondary and tertiary/teaching hospitals serving a population of over 2 million people, followed the official donation ceremony in Goma.
The donated items have improved the quality of care across the entire patient population, supporting respiratory therapy and oxygenation for COVID-19 patients, laboratory paraclinical tests, the quality of admission support to help patients ambulate once admitted to a facility, and the effectiveness of minor and major surgical care. Eye care at the FORMULAC Hospital has also advanced through the donation of an ophthalmic surgical microscope to facilitate an array of eye surgeries. Even the donation of single-use surgical drapes for minor and major surgeries has proven to be invaluable, especially as power outages, which are common in the DRC, can make sterilization of multi-use drapes challenging.
“The donation is a joyful initiative because it is a real need for the hospital as we are going through a COVID-19 pandemic and our hospital needs equipment for the intensive care of patients. MedShare, the Coca-Cola Foundation, and others responded to our need to improve the care of our patients,” said Dr. Pius Murotso, Director of Virunga Hospital.
Closing the gap in quality primary and secondary health care is essential to improving global health outcomes. For when quality primary care is available, it meets the immediate healthcare needs of patients and decreases the need for further, more critical care. MedShare is committed to continuing to help decrease these global health disparities by improving access to quality medical supplies and equipment, increasing capacity to effectively treat and care for patients in underserved health care systems throughout the world on a day-to-day basis, and strengthening them so they are prepared to treat patients during future health crises.