Church, Congolese government partner on maternal health

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A new maternity center will allow women to give birth without walking up to 25 kilometers, or 15 miles, to the nearest hospital.

The Irambo district is a suburb of Bukavu City with a population of about 17,000, but lacking adequate infrastructure for maternity. To give birth in acceptable conditions, women have to walk long distances. The church decided to build this maternity center to allow the women of this country to benefit from better conditions for delivery.

The inauguration of the Irambo Health Center Maternity took place on Nov. 13 — a little less than a year after the start of construction work in December 2016 — as part of a project of The United Methodist Church's Global Health Initiative. The center will benefit those living in the area of the Kivu United Methodist Conference.

Interior of the new maternity ward at the Irambo Clinic. The clinic which opened on Nov. 13, 2017, expects to see 60 to 70 women per month.  Photo by Philippe Kituka Lononga, UMNS.

This photo shows the interior of the new maternity ward at the Irambo Clinic. The clinic, which opened Nov. 13, 2017, expects to see 60-70 women per month. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lononga, UMNS.

"The United Methodist Church is a health partner of the Congolese government and today it has just shown its goodwill by building a modern maternity facility, which is an essential element in the community of the Irambo district in particular and the city of Bukavu in general. This is an act to encourage that the church will continue to support the Congolese state in this sector of health, " Dr. Jean Cubaka, Ibanda Zone chief medical officer, said following the inauguration ceremony:

At the December 2016 launch, women and community members were very much involved in this project. It was a priority for all women living in the Irambo area who suffered a great deal during childbirth and would have Women visit the newly opened Irambo Clinic.

East Congo Area Bishop Gabriel Unda visited the facility in June during the meeting of the Kivu Annual Conference. “Maternal health is a concern in this area,” he said, “seeing the numbers of women giving birth every day.”

According to the report given by the Health Coordination Works at East Congo, an average of 60 to 70 women per month will visit the Irambo facility.

Women visit the newly opened Irambo Clinic. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lononga, UMNS.

Women visit the newly opened Irambo Clinic. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lononga, UMNS.

Dr. Philippe Okonda, chief health coordinator for the East Congo Area, showed representatives from the Global Health Initiative the need to improve the conditions for delivering births in this health facility. He also recommended follow-up care for pregnant women and children up to the age of 5.

The facility contains a maternity ward with 20 beds, a delivery room, recovery room, operating room, a doctor consultation office and two private rooms.  

Dr. Damas Lushima, supervising doctor of the facility, congratulated the Global Health Initiative's support in this structure and said that women's birth conditions are starting to improve because previously, two women were sleeping in the same bed due to lack of space.

Douglas Mukome, the Bourgmestre (mayor) of Ibanda Commune in Bukavu, praised the work done by The United Methodist Church and encouraged the church to continue its efforts to help pregnant women and their children.

The Rev. Dumas Balaganire, Uvira District superintendent, expressed satisfaction with the construction of the maternity center and thanked the Global Health Partners for their support. Balaganire represented Bishop Unda, who was attending a Council of Bishops in the United States.

Kituka Lolonga is communicator for the Kivu Annual Conference.

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