September 2013 news

Quaker Congo Partnership

Newsletter 12

Our Consultant, Maurice Bindende, visited Abeka from 1st – 3rd August and has recently sent us a report of his visit.  A major issue continues to be the need for a clean water supply, of which more later.  We have renewed Maurice Bindende’s contract until the end of February 2014.

Community Hospital (Centre Hospitalier d’Abeka)

 Following the renovation work needed after storm damage, the building has been extended and the operating theatre is now in the new building.  The increase in available space will allow for an extra ten beds.  However, there is only one doctor at the moment, Dr Guillaume who has been at the Hospital for some time now, so we will see how he manages if the workload increases.  We were also told that range of drugs available through the pharmacy has been increased, within the existing budget.

During the period April – June 2013 there were 904 outpatient consultations, of which 519 were for children under five years.  During the same period, 479 patients were hospitalised of whom 301 were children under the age of five years.  Clearly there is a particular health problem regarding young children.  This ties in with figures from the World Health Organisation, who report that the probability of dying under five years in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is 168 per 1,000 live births. The corresponding figure in the UK is 5.  When we look at the morbidity figures given to us by Maurice Bindende, the reason for this difference becomes clear.  The most common illness is malaria.  This is followed by anaemia, pneumonia, diarrhoea  and typhoid fever – all illnesses/conditions which are very rare now in the UK, with the exception of pneumonia, which is associated in the UK with extreme old age.

We have been exploring the possibility of providing a clean water supply for the Hospital, which may possibly be available to local people too, depending on the type of scheme chosen.  At the moment water has to be collected and carried to the hospital.  Clearly there would be major health benefits if clean water could be provided, but it is not easy or cheap to find a solution.  A visit was made by consultants from non governmental organisations and regional representatives of government organisations at the beginning of August and they have produced a report with suggested solutions, but choosing the right scheme and funding it remains work in progress.  The scheme currently under consideration costs an estimated $91,000.

Trauma Clinic

The work of the Trauma Clinic continues to be valued.  The staff have taken part in a workshop for religious leaders from a variety of places of worship to explain the work that they do and “spread the message” of the value of counselling for trauma victims.  The trauma clinic staff have also provided some peace education in a nearby town called Makobola and also education on reproductive health.

Maurice Bindende was told about a very distressing incident shortly before his visit, when some local people were burned for wichcraft by other Abeka residents.  Some of the local children were traumatised by what they witnessed and have needed help.  It is very shocking to hear of such events and Maurice has reflected on the possible causes of such awful behaviour (the negative impact of war, lack of a respected police force, poor local security situation, poverty and unemployment are possible contributing factors he thinks).

On a more positive note, the 26 orphaned school children we are supporting continue to do well and all passed their national exams.  The scheme is so popular that apparently other children have asked for help.  One boy spoke very positively to Maurice about the help he had received following abuse by his step mother.

Micro Credit Scheme

This scheme to provide small loans to women in and near Abeka appears to be going very well now, following its reorganisation earlier this year.  Most of the loans are being repaid and the women say they are using the money they make to pay school fees, buy food and generally provide for their families.  The small businesses they run are mostly trading enterprises eg selling used clothes, beans, cassava flour, charcoal, palm oil and fish, but some women are engaged in agriculture, some are making mud bricks and one is a tailor.  A lot of the loans have been repaid, so this money can be loaned out again.  Maurice reports that the most profitable businesses are the ones dealing in fish and agricultural products.