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DRC-based Organization Advances SRH in Rural Communities

Advancing rural communities’ access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education and care forms the backbone of Infirmiers en Action dans le Milieu Rural (IAMR), which, in English, translates to Nurses in Action in Rural Areas.

Based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, IAMR strives to empower displaced populations to access quality, low-cost SRH care at primary and secondary health facilities, according to the organization’s CEO and founder Benson Ahmed Hussein.

This mission resulted in ongoing conflict and political instability in the eastern part of the country both bred an exodus of medical and paramedical professionals and also created more need to access healthcare facilities in these communities. Benson cited the region’s high rate of mortality and morbidity among pregnant and breastfeeding people and children to particularly illustrate the health challenges in this region.

“That is why it is important to help them by providing quality care,”

Benson said.

Operated by a seven-person team, IAMR offers a range of services aimed at understanding and advocating for quality SRH care, including:

  • Prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), particularly HIV
  • Obstetric and prenatal care for displaced women and girls in health facilities with IAMR partnerships
  • Contraceptive’s counseling, particularly for adolescents
  • Equipping maternity wards with clean delivery kits, including for Caesarian sections

Within the last year, Benson reported that IAMR led a three-day workshop on maternal and early childhood health; provided 4 health facilities with Caesarean section and delivery kits; organized two training courses in basic emergency and obstetric and neonatal care (BEmONC) for 35 health workers in DRC’s Mwenga Territory in South Kivu Province; held midwifery training for birth workers in three Health Zone of Mwenga Territory, in South Kivu Province; offered a multi-session workshop on sexually transmitted infections (STIs); and provided an estimated 150 referrals for survivors of gender-based violence requiring medical and psychological care.

Benson shared that no legal means of accessing contraception for minors and abortion care for pregnant people are two key challenges in DRC. To combat this, IAMR organizes awareness-raising training to discuss contraceptive practices with young people. Additionally, the organization in the last year reimbursed the medical bills for 50 people who experienced unsafe abortions and needed medical attention at a health facility.

Grounded in gender equality, IAMR remains committed to serving the SRH needs of the most marginalized communities in eastern DRC, including people who engage in transactional sex and community members living with HIV, reported Benson.

IAMR invites you to follow along with their work as they advance SRH in rural DRC by visiting their website or on their Facebook page.

Sexual and reproductive health services remain critical during COVID-19

IAWG members and partners are producing clinical and programmatic guidance, assessments, policy papers, and statements to ensure continued prioritization of sexual and reproductive health and rights throughout COVID-19 response in humanitarian settings.