The challenges and our response
Years after the official end of a decade-long civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), violence remains pervasive throughout eastern DRC, sexual abuse of women and children continues to escalate and more than one-third of the population lacks access to basic healthcare.
International Medical Corps has worked in the DRC since 1999, providing primary and secondary healthcare, capacity-building, gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and treatment, nutrition support, social and behavioural change, food security programs, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. In the last three years, we have responded to multiple outbreaks of disease, including Ebola, measles, polio and COVID-19.
International Medical Corps is currently serving communities in remote and hard-to-reach areas in Tanganyika, South Kivu and North Kivu provinces in eastern DRC, and Équateur province in the west. We have served more than 2 million people in the DRC, many of whom have been affected by armed conflict.
IInternational Medical Corps currently supports 133 health centres and hospitals across 26 communities, providing essential drugs, medical supplies, training, and referral and transfer of patients who need specialized care. Our beneficiaries include Ebola-affected communities, internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and vulnerable host populations. Given the considerable gaps in primary healthcare services in International Medical Corps’ area of intervention, we focus on providing a comprehensive and integrated primary care package, including immunization campaigns, advancement of maternal and child health, and improved environmental sanitation and hygiene practices at targeted health facilities. 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 gender-based violence (GBV) in war-ravaged eastern DRC. Our complementary USAID-funded Care, Access, Safety and Empowerment (CASE) and Behavior Change Communications (BCC) projects take a comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of GBV survivors while preventing future cases by changing community attitudes around gender and violence. In three health zones in DRC, CASE has provided more than 37,000 people with increased access to quality medical, psychosocial, legal and livelihood services.
International Medical Corps has been one of the primary responders to Ebola outbreaks in the DRC. We supported the Ministry of Public Health in its efforts to manage the country’s tenth Ebola outbreak, which began in the province of North Kivu in August 2018 and—by the time it was declared over nearly two years later, in June 2020—grew to become the second-largest outbreak in world history. In responding to that outbreak, International Medical Corps established two Ebola treatment centres (ETCs) in the towns of Mangina and Makeke, and set up 95 screening and referral units (SRUs) at health facilities in the affected areas to support the safe screening, isolation and referral of suspected and confirmed cases. At each of these facilities, we trained all relevant staff members on infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, including proper donning and doffing of personal protective equipment, hand hygiene and appropriate waste management practices. International Medical Corps is currently working to help local authorities and affected communities maintain their capacity to respond to Ebola, to reinforce community trust and to promote early case detection through community engagement and access to safe and quality healthcare.