Democratic Republic of Congo
The United Methodist Church has a long and far-reaching presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), especially in Katanga Province. The local United Methodist churches reached out to assist internally displaced persons (IDPs) when fighting broke out in 1999 and also assisted refugees from the wars in Rwanda and Burundi. The United Methodist Church of DRC has been recognized as a major contributor among the faith-based community to helping the peace process take hold.
In response to extensive needs in the country, UMCOR opened an office in DRC in October 2002. UMCOR DRC works primarily in the southeastern province of Katanga with programs that focus on health, nutrition, agriculture, and livelihoods.
UMCOR is currently directly implementing the following projects:
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
The goal of this Global Fund-supported program is to contribute to reducing the morbidity and mortality related to malaria in pregnant women and children less than one year of age in four health zones in northern Katanga Province. This is an expansion of UMCOR’s previous malaria work with The Global Fund, which was carried out in three health zones.
There are two main program areas:
- Inventory stocking and management:
Distribution of malaria-related supplies (including long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, or LLINs) and medicine
Recognizing that a continuous and adequate supply of recommended anti-malarial drugs is key to delivering timely and effective treatment at health-care facilities and success in the prevention and treatment of malaria, UMCOR is working closely with SANRU (Santé Rural) and the government of DRC health structure to implement an effective inventory-management system that will supply health-care structures with necessary supplies delivered via an efficient distribution system.
- Awareness-raising activities: Malaria treatment and prevention
To strengthen the sustainability of this program, UMCOR conducts awareness-raising activities at the community level, organizing quarterly awareness-raising meetings in public places (i.e., schools, markets, and churches). UMCOR also organizes meetings with the community health workers who will be conducting door-to-door visits to households in the health zones to inform beneficiaries of malaria risks, symptoms, and means of detection.
HIV and AIDS
The goal of this Global Fund-supported program is to contribute to reducing morbidity and mortality as well as the negative impact of HIV and AIDS in DRC.
The program both targets the general population and focuses efforts on high-risk groups (men in uniform, victims of violence, truckers, youth, sex workers, pregnant women, people living with HIV, orphans, and vulnerable children). It works to achieve the goals set forth in the country’s national plans and guidelines with regard to universal access to prevention, care, and treatment. The national strategic plan emphasizes five specific areas of action:
- Prevention of HIV transmission among vulnerable populations
- Prevention of transmission through blood transfusion
- Care and support for people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) and AIDS orphans
- Access to Antiretroviral treatment
- Strengthening and expansion of Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT).
The program supports a comprehensive strategy to fight HIV and AIDS. Activities include, but are not limited to:
- Use mass media communication to promote behavior change
- Provide and promote educational materials
- Engage in multimedia awareness activities (mobile, video)
- Organize trainings and awareness events
- Carry out targeted free distribution of condoms
- Provide support for orphans and vulnerable children
- Provide care and support for people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA)
- Offer voluntary counseling and testing
- Promote prevention of mother-to-child transmission
- Provide post-exposure prophylaxis
- Provide prophylaxis and treatment of opportunistic infections
- Improve Blood Safety
Provide patient testing (tuberculosis and HIV)
Community Agriculture Development
The Integrated Development Program in Kamina is a three-year program that focuses on agriculture, water, and sanitation as complimentary approaches for targeting key societal factors that impact the prevalence of diseases and high levels of poverty in this rural community. Supported by Foods Resource Bank, the aim of this project is to build local capacity and increase nutritious food production and income for communities in and around Kamina.
Community volunteers engage in health trainings and behavioral-change messaging within their communities and also receive training in integrated crop and pest management (ICPM), which helps improve the yields and quality of their crops. Local construction of wells and latrines contributes to the reduction in the number of deaths from preventable water-related diseases such as cholera and diarrhea.
The program is working with three communities, from which 90 participants will then offer training to other members of their communities. Currently, each participant has trained an average of four others in ICPM, bringing the total number of beneficiaries from the informal training to about 360 people, with the hope that this number will increase in the next growing season.
Recently Completed Projects
During the period January 1, 2011- December 31, 2012, UMCOR activities included, but were not limited to the following:
Long-Lasting Insecticide-Treated Bed Net (LLIN) Distributions
As with successful UMCOR programs in other African communities, the primary goal of these programs is to decrease the incidence of clinical malaria cases and/or rates of mortality associated with malaria via an innovative approach to combating the deadly disease.
All UMCOR LLIN distribution programming involves comprehensive training of volunteers, so that as they participate in the proper installation of the life-saving nets, they also are able to impart to beneficiaries information about malaria prevention, transmission, symptoms, and treatment. In all programs, each household in a targeted area receives on average three mosquito nets. This is in alignment with the principal of universal coverage, which aims to ensure that the most vulnerable members of a household will have the protection of sleeping under a net. Volunteers have conducted baseline surveys, distributed nets, educated the public, and will conduct follow-up surveys and visits to monitor correct usage of the nets over time. Combined, these efforts will help ensure more sustainable results from the program and will also allow us to measure successful program elements for potential future replication.
- Kanzenze and Lualaba: In 2012, the United Nations Foundation, with Nothing But Nets funds generated by The United Methodist Church, funded a distribution program in the health zones of Kanzenze and Lualaba. This distribution, and the associated awareness raising, was an effort to help combat the incidence of malaria in these communities and was integrated into the national distribution campaign that took place at the same time as UMCOR’s distribution. In total, 48,249 LLINs were distributed in Lualaba, reaching 21,560 households, including 30,555 children under the age of five. In Kanzenze, 42,051 LLINs were distributed to 17,348 households, including 24,745 children under the age of five.
Initial statistics received from the health zones in 2011 and 2012 show improved health outcomes following UMCOR’s intervention. In Kanzenze, there was a 50% decrease from 2011 to 2012 in total cases of malaria reported and a 79% decrease in deaths attributable to malaria. In Lualaba, there was an 86% decrease in hospitalizations due to malaria and a 76% decrease in deaths attributable to malaria over the same period.
- Kamina and Mulungwishi: In 2011-2012, UMCOR conducted two LLIN distribution and education campaigns. One of the largest malaria-control programs conducted by UMCOR DRC took place in Kamina, with the distribution of 77,000 nets and the mobilization of 200 volunteers. In Mulungwishi, 9,000 nets were distributed with the help of 50 volunteers.
PARTNERS IN OUR WORK
UMCOR DRC works with a variety of partners to carry out programs. In addition to the private funds we receive through The United Methodist Church, we also receive support from the following:
Foods Resource Bank
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Nothing But Nets
United Nations Foundation
US Department of Agriculture