A community case management site decreases the infant mortality rate in a remote village in the DRC.
By Dieudonné Cigajira
Married with two children, Mama Mawa lives in Kalamba, a remote village of 900 people in the health zone of Kitutu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Kalamba experienced four infant deaths from preventable diseases in the three-month period from March 2016 to May 2016. Yet, that was before the installation of an integrated community case management (iCCM) site in the village, under the auspices of the USAID-funded Integrated Health Project Plus (IHPplus).
The impact was quickly felt.
“One Friday evening, my two young sons suddenly came down with a high fever. I quickly ran to the iCCM site. It would have been impossible to reach the health center, which is not only a two-hour walk away but also requires crossing the river eight times, which is especially dangerous at night,” explains Mawa.
Bashilwango, a community health worker (CHW), remembers seeing Mawa arrive very late that night with her two children, both suffering from a high fever. “I did a rapid diagnostic test, which was positive for malaria for both children, and immediately treated them with an artemisinin-based combination therapy, following national guidelines.”
The iCCM site was possible because of a partnership between IHPplus and the Provincial Health Division of Sud Kivu, where Kitutu is located. As they had done for 18 other health zones in the province, the partners organized trainings for health care providers to revitalize Kitutu’s iCCM sites. In June 2016, nurses and community health workers were trained in the use of new diagnostic tools and in recognizing and referring high-risk cases of childhood illnesses (including diarrhea, malaria, and simple pneumonia). From June to December 2016, Kalamba’s iCCM site treated 46 different cases and referred 31 of them to the local health center. All were cured.
“I am happy and satisfied. Normally, I would have had to wait until the next morning to try to cross the river and bring my children to the health center. They might have died before they received the necessary care, as so many of the children of our village have. That’s why my husband and I thank the health zone authorities and our CHW for setting up this site,” says Mawa.
Implemented by MSH and Overseas Strategic Consulting, Ltd (OSC) in 126 health zones under a subcontract via Pathfinder/Evidence to Action (E2A), IHPplus is considered a three-year “bridge,” to avoid a gap in services in USAID-supported health zones upon completion of the five-year flagship DRC-IHP.