DR Congo

DR Congo: Bandundu Health Districts Get a Shot in the Arm

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  • In the northern part of Bandundu province, access to quality health services is gradually improving thanks to funding from the World Bank

  • The Bank has channeled its support through the Health Sector Rehabilitation Support Project, which is also active in four other provinces

  • Funding from the project is used to buy medical equipment and medicines, as well as to provide performance-based salary bonuses to medical personnel

KINSHASA -- April 22, 2011 -- In the Kwamouth health zone, a region located at the confluence of the Congo and the Kasaï Rivers, approximately 250 kilometers from Bandundu (capital of the province of the same name), it is very difficult for people who are ill to be transferred to well-equipped health centers, if there is one in the area.

“My wife was the first person to be transferred by motor vehicle to the hospital in Mashabio to undergo a surgical procedure there,” explained Jean François Mumbenze, who is pleased with the current implementation of the Health Sector Rehabilitation Support Project, widely known here by its French acronym PARSS. The project has proved a success in terms of the transfer of pregnant women to the general referral hospital for cesarean sections.

In Kiri, the project has won over the indigenous people, who now have access to modern health care. “We are now delivering babies in maternity wards, which was not the case previously,” attested a satisfied Madeleine Dekande, a pygmy woman who attended the official handing over of motorized equipment for the project to the city of Bandundu.

Oshwe is one of the 14 health districts in the province of Bandundu that benefit from the Health Sector Rehabilitation Support Project. Together, these health zones cover a population of about 1,340,000 people.

For the past two year, this project supplied these health districts with a various useful materials including: motor vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, speed boats, hospital beds and mattresses, delivery beds, surgical beds, office supplies, fuel, and lubricants. The Provincial Health Inspectorate currently operates out of a retrofitted building.

“The old typewriters have been replaced with computers and our working conditions have improved significantly, owing to the boost given by the project,” declared Ndwaya Mokuba, secretary at the Provincial Health Inspectorate.

“We are pleased with the results garnered so far, but a lot still remains to be done and we will do our best to continue to support these areas with the resources at our disposal,” said Jean Jacques Frère, the World Bank project lead.

Providing Access to High-Quality Health Care

Launched in 2008 in the five provinces of Bandundu, Equateur, Katanga, Kinshasa, and Maniema, PARSS ensures that people in the targeted health zones have access to a package of quality essential health services and that they use these services effectively. With a total budget of US$150 million for the entire program, the project will continue until the end of 2011.

Dr. Jean Longri, project coordinator for the north of the province, explained that PARSS’ support to the health zones is extensive because it also impacts finance, logistics, and training. The project in fact executes rehabilitation work and provides medication, as well as medical and non-medical consumables and equipment for hospitals and health centers. In order to better care for patients, it subsidizes their treatment by paying the medical staff performance bonuses as an incentive.

“We no longer have to send nurses from the city because the bonus is a real shot in the arm for us,” stated Elisabeth Monkango, registered nurse at the Ngatoko health center in the Nioki health zone.

This bonus is paid quarterly to five staff members in each health facility. When they receive it, “the recipients give back 20 percent, which is to be shared in order to show solidarity with non-recipients,’’ indicated Jacques Moke, who hopes to see the infrastructure, especially the buildings at certain health centers rehabilitated, and the quantity of medication provided increased.

Committed Staff

Dr. Jacques Wangata, the National PARSS Coordinator, feels that the subsidy granted to health facilities helps reduce expenditure for families receiving treatment at these facilities. Material support is also important for the hospitals and health centers that benefit from it.

Mputu Makalamba, an officer of the central bureau of the Kutu health zone, admits that these interventions by PARSS qualitatively influence the performance of the nursing staff and contribute to the efficient operation of health facilities. The motorized equipment in particular “facilitates monitoring, supervision, and epidemiological surveillance,” he said.

“By granting a subsidy to health facilities, we have managed to retain more staff and even made them more disciplined,” Wangata declared proudly. Moreover, for the first time in 20 years, public administration staff members in the better-performing health zones of PARSS have received a bonus, which is commonly referred to here as “the 13th month” allowance.

“At this point, what matters to us is that the Congolese Government can now take over and see to it that the gains achieved so far are sustained,” Jean Jacques Frère said.

Funding for PARSS was originally approved in 2005 by the International Development Association, the branch of the World Bank Group that provides assistance to low-income countries.