This week, the Congolese Government’s National Steering Committee for Health is meeting to officially launch the National A Promised Renewed (APR)’s acceleration framework to reduce infant and maternal mortality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Following the Minister of Health’s participation in the Child Survival Call to Action in Washington June 2012 and at the African Leadership for Child Survival in Addis Ababa in January 2013, the DRC Government has made great strides in developing a strategic country-specific plan to move towards accelerated reduction of maternal and child deaths. This Action Framework aims to reduce under-five mortality by 48 percent and maternal mortality by 31 percent, saving the lives of 430,000 children and 7,900 mothers by 2015.
Part of the action framework includes a national scorecard which will serve as a monitoring tool to better track successes at the provincial level.
USAID’s current health portfolio directly aligns with the objectives of the Ministry of Health’s APR plan and efforts to intensify the reduction of maternal and child deaths. USAID has worked with the DRC to improve access, availability and quality of health services in 80 health zones through the Integrated Health Project, led by Management Sciences for Health. This $144 million five-year project spans the spectrum of essential health services and provides support to the government’s Health Systems Strengthening Strategy (SRSS) and the National Health Development Plan (PNDS).
In support of A Promise Renewed, USAID and UNICEF are collaborating to promote essential maternal and child health services through a package of high impact interventions in 27 health zones, where access to health centers faces the greatest barriers and the risk of child mortality is highest. A thorough LiST (Lives Saved Tool) analysis identified these interventions, which will target children under five and pregnant women with vouchers that subsidize care. Some of the key activities will focus on pre-packaged family kits that will be distributed to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria, diarrhea, and respiratory infections and to provide basic emergency obstetrical and neonatal care in health centers. If this approach is successful, there are plans to scale it up nationwide, impacting those most at risk throughout the DRC.
This is an exciting time for the DRC, and the USAID Mission here in Kinshasa is committed to working closely with UNICEF to support the DRC Ministry of Health on implementing the country plan to drastically improve child survival.