The challenges and our response
The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have endured decades of civil war, during which 5.4 million Congolese died from violence, hunger and disease. While the war officially came to an end years ago, the eastern region of DRC remains one of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis zones.
Violence among armed groups, intercommunity conflicts, land disputes and rampant sexual violence against women and children continue, especially in several zones in the North Kivu. International Medical Corps began working in DRC in 1999 and has since served more than two million people in the country, 80 percent of whom were displaced by the war. Today, we provide primary health care and a range of health services in some of DRC’s most remote and volatile areas, often where the presence of other international organizations is extremely limited or non-existent.
Despite continued support over the past six years to reinforce immediate and sustained access to essential and integrated primary health care for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and conflict-affected persons, the humanitarian situation is getting worse.
Health Care: International Medical Corps currently supports 64 clinics and hospitals in health zones of North Kivu, Tanganyika and South Kivu, providing essential drugs, medical supplies, training, and referral and transfer of patients who need specialised care. Our beneficiaries include internally displaced people, Congolese refugees returning home and vulnerable host populations.
Given the considerable gaps in primary health care services in International Medical Corps’ area of intervention, we focus on providing a comprehensive and integrated primary care package, including immunisation campaigns, advancement of maternal and child health, and improved environmental sanitation and hygiene practices at targeted health facilities. More than 75% of malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea cases in International Medical Corps-supported facilities are successfully treated; we continue to support capacity-building within these health centres to ensure that treatment quality remains high.
Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment: Since 2002, International Medical Corps has helped lead the battle against widespread GBV in war-ravaged eastern DRC. Our complementary USAID-funded Care, Access, Safety & Empowerment (CASE) and Behavior Change Communications (BCC) projects take a comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of GBV survivors, while also preventing future cases by changing community attitudes around gender and violence. In three health zones in DRC, CASE has provided an estimated 36,962 people with increased access to quality medical, psychosocial, legal and livelihood services.
Currently International Medical Corps is implementing a GBV project in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee funded by the World Bank through Fonds Social of the DRC. The project is being carried out in North and South Kivu in five health zones: Minova, Shabunda, Lulingu, Kirotshe and Binza.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): As many health facilities in DRC lack running water, latrines and other basic sanitation services, International Medical Corps works with health centres to construct and rehabilitate water sources and install rain water catchment systems. To ensure the sustainability of these efforts, our staff establish local water and sanitation committees and educate villagers on the proper maintenance and storage of water and sanitation supplies and sources.