Democratic Republic of the Congo
We partner with national and local organizations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo so that women, children, and communities—especially those who live in fragile settings—can access the health care they need.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the largest country in Francophone Africa. It has made considerable progress in recent years to improve the health of its population, including eradicating wild poliovirus in 2015, a major win for Congolese children in the fight against preventable diseases.7 Despite progress, the recent political challenges in the country have made it increasingly difficult for women, children, and communities to access the health care they need.
MOMENTUM works closely with the government and national and local organizations to transform health care in DRC. Our aim is to make it easier for women, children, and families to get access to high-quality, respectful maternal, newborn, and child health, voluntary family planning, and reproductive health services whether it is through the private or public health sector.
Through our partnerships, we work to strengthen routine immunization and increase access to services related to infectious diseases, reproductive health, nutrition, and water, sanitation, and hygiene. We work across DRC with a focus on complex environments, such as the province of North Kivu.
Strengthening Health Resilience and Fighting Infectious Diseases in Fragile Settings
Conflict, Ebola outbreaks, and the COVID-19 pandemic have made DRC’s North Kivu province a fragile environment. In collaboration with local partners, MOMENTUM builds on USAID-funded Ebola response efforts to improve and restore health services in the province. We help build and enhance the capacity of health systems in North Kivu to reach key populations and address some of the root causes of poor health and fragility. MOMENTUM also facilitates collaboration between the development health sector and humanitarian aid organizations operating in North Kivu to strengthen community health services.
One of DRC’s chronic health challenges is its high rate of tuberculosis: 270,000 people in DRC fell ill with the disease in 2018.8 In North Kivu, the exact rate of tuberculosis is unknown, but it is likely even higher than the national rate due to its fragile context.9 MOMENTUM works closely with partners in North Kivu to develop and implement a tuberculosis program that supports screening, rapid testing, treatment, and counseling at local health facilities.
Maintaining Access to Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Care in North Kivu
Conflict, Ebola outbreaks, and the COVID-19 pandemic have severely disrupted access to essential health services in North Kivu. MOMENTUM helps strengthen the capacity of DRC’s health system to deliver capacity maternal, newborn and child health services, helping to sustainably transition the country away from humanitarian assistance. In North Kivu, MOMENTUM works in close collaboration with the national and provincial Ministry of Health, international partners, and other United Nations- and USAID-funded projects, to establish mechanisms for community and health facility input to improve and strengthen community health services.
For example, we convene representatives from health facilities, community leaders, and non-governmental organizations to assess health priorities and trends and create action plans to address these needs. MOMENTUM-supported community health workers also conduct regular household visits to provide health messaging, identify health needs, and make referrals to local health facilities. MOMENTUM staff meet regularly with these community health workers to discuss their activities and reflect on lessons learned from their experiences. Through these meetings, MOMENTUM supports partners’ efforts to improve primary health care messaging, referrals, and reporting.
We also work with partners to provide a steady supply of quality medications and other health products for women, children, and communities in North Kivu.
Tailored Solutions for Family Planning and Reproductive Health
MOMENTUM works with local organizations and leaders to adapt family planning interventions and messages to minimize barriers to local service delivery, often rooted in harmful gender norms. At health facilities, we help increase providers’ knowledge and skills and encourage their understanding of a broader range of contraceptive methods, especially long-acting reversible contraceptives. We also work with providers to help them provide high-quality counseling, address biases, and promote adolescent-responsive care.
To fight malnutrition, MOMENTUM works with partners to integrate family planning and nutrition services—along with services for tuberculosis control and reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health—in targeted zones throughout DRC. We collaborate with public and private health facilities to strengthen their readiness to provide high-quality, people-centered, integrated services.
Increasing Routine Immunization Coverage
DRC is one of the most vulnerable countries to vaccine-preventable diseases; only 35 percent of children are fully vaccinated.10 MOMENTUM supports the government to implement the Mashako Plan, which aims to increase immunization coverage nationwide by 15 percent. As part of our work, we collaborate with local organizations to address persistent barriers to equitable immunization coverage and identify high-potential interventions and strategies to overcome these barriers.
Supporting COVID-19 Vaccine Introduction
MOMENTUM provides technical assistance to support the country’s efforts to introduce COVID-19 vaccines to communities. We work closely with DRC’s national immunization program and other partners to identify priority populations and design service delivery and communication strategies to reach them and encourage them to get the vaccine.
Determining the Cost of Private Health Care
The private sector is an important part of DRC’s health system, but little is known about the cost of private health care delivery.11 This information gap makes it challenging for leaders to make informed decisions about allocating resources within the health system. MOMENTUM is conducting a study to understand the difference between costs in the private and public sectors, especially the cost of family planning services. This effort will guide publicly funded health programs on whether and how to work with private providers.
MOMENTUM Integrated Health Resilience works in DRC to strengthen health resilience, maintain access to MNCH care in fragile settings, and create solutions for family planning and reproductive health.
MOMENTUM Private Healthcare Delivery is conducting a study of DRC’s public, private for-profit, and private nonprofit health sectors to assess the costs of key family planning services among public and private providers.
MOMENTUM Routine Immunization Transformation and Equity works to increase routine immunization coverage in DRC and supports the government to introduce the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Kaneda, Toshiko, Charlotte Greenbaum, and Carl Haub. 2021 World Population Data Sheet. Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau. 2021. https://interactives.prb.org/2021-wpds/.
- Kaneda, Greenbaum, and Haub, 2021 World Population Data Sheet.
- Kaneda, Greenbaum, and Haub, 2021 World Population Data Sheet.
- Roser, Max and Hannah Ritchie. “Maternal Mortality.” 2017. https://ourworldindata.org/maternal-mortality.
- United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “Country Profiles: Democratic Republic of the Congo.” UNICEF Data. 2017. https://data.unicef.org/country/cod/.
- Countdown to 2030. “Countdown Country Dashboard: Democratic Republic of the Congo.” https://profiles.countdown2030.org/#/ds/COD.
- USAID. “Democratic Republic of the Congo: Global Health.” Last updated September 23, 2021. https://www.usaid.gov/democratic-republic-congo/global-health
- World Health Organization. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – Integrating Tuberculosis Screening into Community-Based HIV Activities. July 2, 2020. https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/democratic-republic-of-the-congo-integrating-tuberculosis-screening-into-community-based-hiv-activities.
- Van Brusselen, Daan, et al. May 2020. “Improving pediatric TB diagnosis in North Kivu (DR Congo), focusing on a clinical algorithm including targeted Xpert MTB/RIF on gastric aspirates.” Conflict and Health 14: 3. https://conflictandhealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13031-020-00281-1
- UNICEF. Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2017-2018. 2019. https://mics.unicef.org/surveys.
- World Bank. The Role of the Private Sector in Improving the Performance of the Health System in the Democratic Republic of Congo. October 2018. https://documents.worldbank.org/en/publication/documents-reports/documentdetail/487571539958646859/the-role-of-the-private-sector-in-improving-the-performance-of-the-health-system-in-the-democratic-republic-of-congo.