Democratic Republic of the Congo
Why Pathfinder Works in DRC
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), like many countries in Africa, has experienced years of conflict that have resulted in large numbers of displaced or transient persons and refugees. Living in a crisis setting, or being forced to leave one's home, exposes women and girls to limited access to health care, minimal or nonexistent community and family support, and greater vulnerability to sexual violence and exploitation, all of which can have a negative impact on reproductive health. While significant progress has been made in raising awareness about reproductive health needs in emergency settings, there is still a need in DRC for multiple models of service delivery that address the evolving needs for reproductive health, family planning, and gender-based violence services at different stages of crises.
Pathfinder began working in eastern DRC in 2008 to identify flexible approaches and models for delivering reproductive health, family planning, and gender-based violence services in different phases of crises, with the goal of integrating the models into National Emergency Response Procedures. Pathfinder's work aims to reach internally displaced persons, refugees, and populations living in transition using a number of approaches and strategies, including:
- Community outreach for issues ranging from contraceptive distribution to behavior change;
- Advocacy aimed at addressing sexual and gender-based violence; and,
- Facility renovation to permit the upgrading of service.
Pathfinder approaches these strategies holistically, involving the community throughout implementation, supporting community supervision, and partnering with the government in order to create sustainable solutions for the future.
Evidence for Decision-Making
A key aspect of Pathfinder's approach to systems' strengthening is collecting evidence that enables public, private, and community partners to make informed health-related decisions across a range of areas in which we work. In the DRC, examples of kinds of evidence we collect range from "total number of DMPA doses administered in community level" to "total number of people trained on FP/RH/GBV whether they are community-based distribution agents, community health workers, facility-based providers, religious leaders or community leaders."
Building Capacity, Strengthening Systems
Pathfinder strategy in DRC is to strengthen the linkage between the health system and the communities it serves by:
- Renovating and equipping health facilities to ensure 24-hour access to high quality service;
- Supporting South Kivu province with a special focus on male involvement and gender issues to improve the uptake of reproductive health and family planning services;
- Assisting service providers in delivering comprehensive reproductive health services;
- Ensuring the availability, access to, and distribution of family planning services;
- Providing training at the provincial level to coordinate deployment and implementation of emergency response with a focus on the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for reproductive health;
- Supporting a two-way referral system to help people who live far away from health facilities access reproductive health services; and,
- Training providers in both gender equity and the improvement of service quality. For example, Pathfinder trains local providers on the latest national health protocols.
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