Health, Education, Community Action and Leadership Development
HEAL Africa takes a holistic approach to development that is shaped by the belief that in order to make sustainable improvements in health, the community must be involved and engaged, and cultural values, attitudes, and practices must be examined. The organization has placed considerable focus on improving maternal and child health in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which claims one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world.
HEAL Africa partnered with ECI beginning in 2010 to address the financial and social deterrents that discourage women from delivering at a health center through maternity insurance collectives, community banking and training rural healthcare professionals. The program worked through multiple layers: traditional birth attendants, health professionals, and women and their families. 2,200 women were given micro-grants in groups of 8-10 to invest in producing more income through their farms and small commerce. At the end of every month, each woman in the group contributes $1 to a maternal insurance fund. This fund is then used for medical care including pre-natal checkups, delivery at a health center and any other necessary medical care relating to pregnancy and birth. This gives women who normally could not afford healthcare, the opportunity to receive treatment throughout their entire pregnancy. 356 women in the groups have given live births with no maternal or neo-natal mortality.
As many women prefer to give birth at home if possible, HEAL Africa trained 96 traditional birth attendants (TBAs) to identify warning signs of a complicated birth where a woman must be taken to a health center for medical care, as opposed to giving birth with the traditional birth attendant. If a woman is taken to a health center, she pays $5 to deliver, which comes out of the maternal insurance collective. $4 stays with the health center and $1 is given to the TBA for the referral.
HEAL Africa also worked with the personnel of 15 health centers to provide training in emergency obstetric care, including the use of partographs and other simple interventions that are known to reduce maternal and infant mortality.
HEAL Africa was founded in 1994 by Congolese orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kasereka “Jo” Lusi, and his wife, Lyn Lusi, based on a vision to upgrade rural health care through training medical practitioners.
To learn more about HEAL Africa's inspiring work, read Faida's StoryMore CBO Success Stories