Accessible Health Care for Pregnant Women & Newborns in Rural DRC

With generous support from USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, International Medical Corps has been working to improve access to health care for pregnant women and newborns in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In the past year, we have trained 146 Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) in the remote Walikale and Itebero health zones in North Kivu, DRC. TBAs are given health training and educational materials so they can provide pregnant women and newborns with critical health services to manage health before, during and after delivery.

Adeline, a 22-year-old in labor with twins from Ndjingala village, arrived at 2am at Therese’s home, bleeding heavily and in intense pain due to prolonged labor. Trained as a TBA by International Medical Corps, Therese was able to quickly assess Adeline’s condition. She was very close to delivery but the babies were in the breech position – if not properly managed, this could cause brain damage or death for the newborns.

Therese advised that Adeline’s family immediately take her to the emergency obstetric facility in Biruwe Town for advanced care. Unfortunately, Adeline’s relatives didn’t have enough money to pay for transport to the health center which is located almost 20 miles away. Therese contacted Tresor, the Village Health Committee Coordinator, who was able to get four neighbors to take Adeline to the health center on an improvised stretcher down the bumpy road to Biruwe.

Once they arrived at the emergency facility, Esperance, a midwife trained in Emergency Obstetric Care by International Medical Corps, helped Adeline successfully deliver two healthy baby boys. She was also able to give the newborn babies the appropriate neonatal care to ensure their long-term health.

As a result of their newly-acquired skills and with critical help from the village health committee, Esperance and Therese saved three lives in a province and a country with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

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