With funds coming from Dutch private donors, Cordaid is working hard to address the COVID-19 pandemic in North and South Kivu, DR Congo’s eastern provinces bordering Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda.
“We started by allocating an initial emergency grant (€300.000) for training community-based health workers on community information and sensibilisation on COVID-19, including guidance for the referral of suspect cases for diagnosis and potential treatment. In addition, we supported hygiene promotion in health facilities and public places, and attended to issues regarding health worker safety, explains Cordaid’s public health expert Jos Dusseljee. “Recently, additional funds were made available. Most of these, some 400.000 €, are used to provide adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers, COVID-19 testing material, and drugs to the health centres and hospitals we work with”, he continues.
WORKING HAND IN HAND WITH LOCAL HEALTH COMMITTEES
In its COVID-19 prevention response, Cordaid works closely with local health committees in Katana (South Kivu) and in Goma (North Kivu). Both Goma and Katana are among the highest COVID-19 risk areas of DR Congo. They are situated on the northern and southern shores of Lake Kivu, right in the middle of the bustling traffic area along the Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundi borders.
“The virus is around, and we need to do everything we can to protect the communities.'' Paterne Kalegemire, Cordaid’s Community Health Expert in DRC
Cordaid’s teams in DR Congo have provided the health committees in Goma and Katana with water tanks, soap disinfectants, and other items for hundreds of handwashing points throughout the areas. To set up and roll out prevention campaigns, we distributed hundreds of megaphones, dozens of loud hailers with 28 amplifiers, and other campaigning equipment, making it possible to reach out and inform even the remotest villages and households.
TRAINING AND EQUIPPING HUNDREDS OF HEALTH WORKERS
“We are doing our best to stop the pandemic from spreading in these borderer provinces”, says the Community Health Expert Paterne Kalegemire, who leads Cordaid’s COVID-19 response in Eastern DRC. “We have trained 840 members of the health committees, 56 local nurses, and 56 religious and community leaders. They are now equipped and aware of how to fight the further spread of the virus”, Paterne continues. “The virus is around, and we need to do everything we can to protect the communities.”
“Cordaid has shown great flexibility, by adjusting ongoing health interventions to the reality of this pandemic.” Dr. Zozo Musafiri, head of the provincial health department in South Kivu
Benoit Chamugana is one of the community leaders who attended a Cordaid training and actively involved in the COVID-19 response. “We learned about the origins of the virus, how to recognize it, and how to combat it”, he says. “Now we go from household to household, to inform people and tell them what protective measures to take.”
COPING WITH CRISES DEMANDS FLEXIBILITY
Dr. Zozo Musafiri, who heads the provincial health department in South Kivu, hails the collaboration with Cordaid. “Cordaid is a partner in our health system, financially but also as a technical expert. Cordaid has shown great flexibility, by adjusting ongoing health interventions to the reality of this pandemic”, he says.