Ten or so people are waiting to be seen at the health centre in Ikpembele, a village in northern Republic of the Congo just 50 kilometres away from the Central African Republic (CAR). All the beds are filled.
On average, 75 to 100 new patients come in every day, and close to 100 more come in for follow-ups, even though he World Health Organization (WHO) standard is 25 patients per day. Only one nurse, one midwife who attends some 30 deliveries per month, and one nutritionist are there to help them.
Most of the patients come from a refugee camp nearby hosting more than 3,000 people; the inhabitants of Ikpembele come to the centre as well.
The interventions of the health, nutrition and HIV/AIDS assistance project led by Terre Sans Frontières (TSF), in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), take place in this kind of environment every day.
This extensive health project will provide healthcare to about 23,000 refugees in the Likouala region, close to one third of whom are children under 12 years of age. An awareness and prevention components is also put forward which covers several themes, including violence against women, HIV testing, reproductive health and the use of insecticidetreated window screens.
The activities revolve around two urban hubs, Impfondo and Bétou, which are 250 kilometres apart; on average, it takes six hours to travel from one to the other, by road or the Oubangui River.
TSF has a team of 130 people made up of doctors, nurses, nutritionists, midwives, pharmacists, awareness officers, psychologists, logisticians, distributors and other professionals who ensure the interventions go smoothly and offer care in a dozen locations.
The Impfondo hub has a referral hospital and six health centres, whereas the Bétou hub has five health centres, including the one in Ikpembele, as well as an intensive nutritional rehabilitation unit for children suffering from moderate to acute malnutrition, and pregnant and nursing women.
This project component is delivered with the participation of UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP), which provide nutritional stock that is essential to the children’s recovery and the women’s improved health.
A partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has also bolstered the capacity of TSF staff and made it possible to obtain equipment and medication for the health centres.
Furthermore, thanks to Collaboration santé internationale’s and the Roncalli International Foundation’s support, a container filled with medical equipment and medication recently arrived in Brazzaville.