Children in nutrition program with Moringa tree seedlings IMCK Cross  
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IMCK co-founder and long-time director, Dr. John Miller, was a Masters in Public Health and IMCK was an early leader in developing public health programs in the Congo. After independence, much of the public health infrastructure developed by the Congolese government was patterned on models developed by IMCK.

In 1981, the DRC adopted a progressive new health policy, with provision of primary health care (PHC) as its main strategy. A massive restructuring of the health system followed, that included decentralizing the sector in 1986 into more than 300 health zones (HZ), the principal operational units. Within a short time, in large part due to strong backing from its principal donors, visionary technical assistance, and especially the dedication and exceedingly competent program implementation of Congolese staff, the DRC health system became one of the most admired in sub-Saharan Africa.

In 1998 the Second Congo War began, devastating the country and killing over 5 million people, more than any other war since World War II. The DRC health system suffered a near total collapse between 1995 and 2001. From 1990 to 2004 infant mortality went from 96 to 129 cases per 1,000 live births, and the TB prevalence rate went from 226 to 551 per 100,000.  Maternal mortality was measured at 870 per 100,000 live births in 1990, and went up to 990 per 100,000 by the year 2000, these rates are among the highest in the world.

In 2001, the HZ system was re-divided into 515 health zones and has undergone continued expansion to allow the HZ boundaries to become aligned with political and administrative boundaries. There are now extensive efforts underway to rebuild the DRC Health Zone system and things are beginning to improve - check out the more recent statistics. IMCK is a key player in all of this.

Improved drinking water source

Working with public health programs to access to safe drinking water.

Women harvesting peanuts

Helping with community development to assure access to adequate food resources.

Working in concert with government health programs to improve health in the DRCongo.
  Public Health gives you the greatest "bang" for your buck
  • Health Zones
  • Nutrition
  • Safe Water
  • Immunizations
  • Health Education

There are 515 Health Zones in the Congo. Each HZ is intended to cover an average population of 110,000 and includes one central HZ office. The HZ is sub-divided into a variable number of areas that consist of several clinics and even more peripheral health posts that are responsible for providing a defined minimum services package. This package includes environmental health, family health and health education. The IMCK program also includes nutrition. In addition, each HZ has a general referral hospital that offers a package of complementary services.

  • The Tshikaji Health Zone The Tshikaji Health Zone
  • A Health Zone Clinic A Health Zone Clinic

IMCK actually has two or three Nutrition Programs.

First, there is the nutrition center adjacent to the Good Shepherd Hospital that brings in seriously malnourished children and provides nutritional rehabilitation to bring them back to good health. One of the food supplements they use is the powdered Moringa leaves from the second program...

Second is the Moringa project. The leaves and pods of the Moringa tree are exceptionally nutritious and IMCK has a huge project for disseminating information and seedlings, free of charge, in the surrounding villages.

Third are the many demonstration gardens and programs to teach people in the villages about nutrition and to build up the variety of foods which they are able to cultivate in their home gardens. The staple food in Congo (called "bidia" in Tshiluba) is a heavy dumpling made from a mixture of corn flower and manioc flower. It is high in little other than carbohydrates but favored because it quickly fills the stomach. Statistics indicate that as much as 70% of the population is undernourished due to their dependence on this single non-nutritious food. IMCK is working hard to educate and broaden the Congo food culture.

  • Powdered Moringa Leaves Powdered Moringa Leaves
  • Food Preparation at the Nutrion Center Food Preparation at the Nutrion Center
  • Children at the Nutrition Center Children at the Nutrition Center

Safe water is a big component of Environmental Health. Congo has many streams and rivers but few offer safe drinking water. This program involves building protected water sources so that bathing, laundry and other activities do not contaminate potable water supplies.

The other major environmental health activity is sanitation. In rural areas, this includes teaching about and building environmentally safe outhouse latrines.

Immunizations are but one component of IMCK's and the Congo's integrated approach to family public health. Public health clinics also provide:

Pre-natal examinations,

Post-natal examinations,

Well Child examinations,

Family Planning,

Immunizations and

Disease Prevention programs, such as providing treated Bed Nets for Malaria prevention.

Health Education is, of course, a key component of all the foregoing public health activities and programs. IMCK has special teams who go out to the villages for health education activities on bicycles!



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