MBF Classifies DR Congo as Conflict Area
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been in a constant state of political unrest and regionalized armed conflict for many years. The central region has been especially volatile serving as a battleground for rival ethnic militias. Recently however, the violence has escalated. Roads have been blocked, airports shut down and villages are fighting with each other in addition to clashing with both government and rebel forces. Residents and missionaries continue with only very basic activities and are essentially “sheltering in place”.
The violence began in response to the start of the presidential election process back in August. The elections have been postponed for a number of reasons. As a result, protests have erupted throughout the capital region of Kinshasa. It is unclear where talks between the government and the opposition party now stand in their efforts to avert a serious civil conflict. According to the UN, since August, more than 400 people have been killed and more than 200,000 displaced.
Parts of Congo, particularly in the east, have experienced insecurity for more than two decades since the end of the Rwandan genocide. In the central region of Kasai, where many of MBF’s partners and PC(USA) missionaries are located, clashes between local villages have been ongoing for several years. However, the unrest in the region seems to have intensified. As recently as last month, some 40 police officers were found beheaded and the bodies of two UN experts, one a U.S. citizen and one a Swedish national, were abducted along with their interpreter. Their bodies were found after about two weeks. This is the first time UN experts have been reported missing in Congo and it is the first recorded disappearance of international workers in the Kasai provinces.
Due to security concerns, this is all we can report at this time.
For our ministry partners in DR Congo who were already operating in a precarious situation, this has turned into a crisis. While some missionaries are still in place, many have been evacuated for safety reasons. Some Congolese hospital and nursing school staff have left to take their families and seek refuge, and an increase in wounded (both military and civilian) are straining the limited resources at IMCK and other hospitals and clinics.
We have monitored the situation since August, hoping it would improve. However, things have continued to deteriorate and it is becoming increasingly difficult for our ministry partners to operate under normal conditions. Based on our assessment, MBF has decided to internally classify DR Congo as a Conflict Area and begin immediately working in an “emergency relief” approach.
For MBF this means that for the immediate future our primary focus in DR Congo will be on getting funds and support to our partners for their basic survival. We will also temporarily suspend long-term development projects, as well as the planning and reporting those projects entail. We are not abandoning these projects, but rather suspending our current work efforts until the situation is stabilized and staff is able to return to normal operations. MBF will work with staff members of our partners currently in place to identify basic services that need funding, and, if needed, supplement staff salaries in order to keep the hospitals open and providing humanitarian medical services.
First and foremost, we ask all of our U.S. ministry partners to pray for the staff and their families of our partners in DR Congo:
- Congo Presbyterian Church (CPC)
- CPK Clinics in Kinshasa
- Good Shepherd Hospital and PAX Clinic
- ITSM and ITM Nursing Schools
- Lubondaie Hospital
- Moma Hospital
- Jeff and Christi Boyd
- Dr. John and Gwenda Fletcher
- Marcia Murray
- Larry and Inga Sthreshley
Your financial support is also critically needed. By faith, MBF is already responding to the needs of these partners. Please consider a special gift, as generous as possible. It can help in providing medications, medical supplies and salary support.
Mary K Center for Global Nursing Development (CGND)
Welcome new Director, Lisa Cole, MA, RN
As MBF looks forward, not just to the coming year, but for the foreseeable future, it is clear that focusing on increasing and improving nursing education is a critical step towards building sustainable health care systems in developing countries. To help facilitate that process, the Mary K Center for Global Nursing Development was created. The focus of the Center is to draw together resources from the foremost clinical and management practices around the world to help nurses in developing countries improve the quality of care, as well as advance their profession.
Lisa joined MBF in September of this year. Her primary role is to help develop, oversee and coordinate programs that will increase the capacity and strengthen the quality of the nursing profession in developing countries. She works to develop collaborative partnerships with both MBF’s international partners, as well as schools and individuals in the U.S.
Lisa has an undergraduate degree in nursing and organizational communications and a master’s degree in gerontology. She has more than 30 years of proven clinical, program development, management and leadership experience in the health care industry, and has spent the last 10 years of her career focused on community outreach to and engagement with under-resourced communities. We are glad to have Lisa on board and are looking forward to the work that the Mary K Center will be doing.
Partner: Presbyterian University of East Africa (PUEA), Kenya
Expanding and Improving Nursing Education
If those most in need around the world are to have greater access to better quality health care, one key factor to making that a reality is improving and expanding nursing education in these countries. MBF has partnered with nursing schools in Kenya—including Chogoria, Tumutumu and Kikuyu—for many years. In a recent partnership with the Presbyterian University of East Africa (PUEA), MBF is helping to establish a Bachelor of Nursing degree program (BScN) that will benefit its three nursing school partners. The curriculum for the new program was approved, pending some minor changes, by the Nursing Council of Kenya (NCK).
While the BScN program curriculum was approved by the NCK this summer, the University is still working to secure its Charter from the Commission for University Education (OUE). Rev. Julius Mwamba, moderator for the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) has been assigned to manage the process. Andy Mayo, MBF CEO and Lisa Cole, Director for MBF’s Mary K Center for Global Nursing Development, met with Rev. Mwamba in October to discuss the status of the situation. Mwamba felt the situation was positive given the recent remarks by the Minister of Education, and the government showed its confidence by allocating scholarships for 853 new students at PUEA.
“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.”
That is a perfect picture of your partnership with the church in DR Congo.
When the Ebola outbreak spread across West Africa, it quickly became apparent that health care infrastructure in the infected countries was woefully inadequate to respond to the disease. Hospitals and clinics were understaffed, under-trained and lacking essential equipment. Under these realities, the disease spread to thousands across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea before the international community could even start to react to the epidemic. It has taken the coordinated efforts of dozens of governments, many billions of dollars, and tens of thousands of international workers to compensate for a lack of basic local capacity.
Many are looking back at its beginnings and ask the question, “how could this have been prevented?” The seemingly simple response is by building local capacity.
In every underdeveloped country in Africa, the staffs of hospitals and clinics need better medical and management training. Pharmaceutical supplies and medical equipment need to be more available and better distributed. Regions need coordinated health care networks to respond to regional health issues.
Building local capacity isn’t about big, international governments and aid organizations that swoop in to fix a problem and then move on. It is quite the opposite. Building local capacity is about creating sustainable quality medical care that is owned and operated by the local community. At MBF, we think that the local church is the key partner to making this happen.
One example of where MBF ministry partners like you are making an impact in building local capacity is in Presbyterian Church of Kinshasa (CPK) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The CPK Health Clinics play an important role in the capital city of Kinshasa, the 3rd largest city in Africa with a population of over nine million. The Church now manages seven health clinics and seven maternity centers in Kinshasa. The single greatest challenge to CPK is that each year hundreds of thousands of poor individuals and families come to the city trying to escape the rural areas. The resulting tragedy is that most of Kinshasa’s inhabitants live below the poverty line with no meaningful way to earn any income.
Building Capacity While Serving the Poor
The great news is that our partnership with the Presbyterian Church in Kinshasa is building local capacity and they are very busy achieving this critical strategy. The challenge is that will take many years to build. It requires increasing training and improving capabilities even as our partners handle hundreds of patients on a daily basis. The centers must find ways to keep and attract new patients that can pay in order to offset the costs of ministering to patients with no ability to pay even the smallest amount … a bit like building the plane even as it is rolling down the runway.
You Can Help Create Local Capacity by Helping Meet Urgent Needs
Building local capacity in Kinshasa will take continued time and dedication, which MBF and its partners are committed to providing. But it also requires support to meet the most urgent and immediate needs.
Will you help meet those needs?
- $25 can provide supplies and medications for one expectant mother.
- $80 can provide treatment for 4 children infected with acute malaria.
- $150 can provide specialized training needed this year for one doctor or nurse.
Help build local capacity for the people of Kinshasa and to honor someone who has helped you in your life. When you give a gift to honor someone, we’ll send the person you choose a card letting them know you have made this gift in their honor.
We are so thankful for your continued partnership with the Church in Kinshasa to help build the local capacity to serve some of the very neediest people in the world.
Maternity Care for Mothers in Malawi
Most pregnant women, whether it is their first child or their fourth, are filled with legitimate concerns and questions, such as: Will my baby be healthy? What will labor and delivery be like? What if something goes wrong?
For mothers in Malawi, these questions are now less frightening. More women are giving birth in hospitals, which has significantly reduced both the infant and maternal mortality rates. At Nkhoma Mission Hospital, their ‘Safe Motherhood Program’ which started in 2008 has increased to 96% of women delivering in the hospital. The impact of this has been an 80% reduction in maternal mortality.
However, this great news comes at a price.
The Malawi government has made a commitment to provide free care for maternity patients and children under the age of five through reimbursements to the hospitals. But, reimbursement rates have not increased to match the rising costs of medical care or the increased number of patients. And, as is often the case in developing countries, government payments are sporadic, leaving the hospitals to shoulder a greater portion of the cost.
MBF is working with our partner, Nkhoma, and four other Malawi mission hospitals to help bridge that gap for patients who cannot afford care – patients like Dorica.
Dorica was referred to Nkhoma Hospital from Mtenthera Health Centre. She arrived one day before the breech delivery of twin boys. Each boy weighed 3 lbs. 8 oz. In addition to their low birth weight, one of the babies needed additional care due to low oxygen levels. But both babies got the care they needed, and Dorica was able to stay close in the hospital’s Kangaroo Mother Care unit.
Help Bridge the Gap
As Christians we are called to help those less fortunate and you can answer that call. Your ministry can help to ensure more mothers like Dorica have the chance to deliver healthy babies.
MBF ministry partners like you, have pledged to fill the gap of $17.50 for each birth. That doesn’t sound like much, but it is overwhelming to the mothers and hospitals in Malawi. More than 200 mothers will deliver at Nkhoma this month – over 850 total at all our partners in Malawi.
Our goal for May is simple – we want to cover the 850 mothers who will deliver this month.
Could you cover the cost of 1 mother per week for May? That’s only $70 to help make that happen. Even a gift of just one delivery, $17.50 will make a huge impact. Frankly, we can’t think of a better gift for Mother’s Day than the gift of motherhood.
Honor a special mother or someone who has made an impact in your life by helping provide life-saving maternity care. When you make your gift, we’ll send the person you choose a card letting them know you have made this gift in their honor. Fill in the form below to give your gift today.
Helping needy mothers and babies get off to a healthy start – now that’s a real celebration!