Democratic Republic of Congo

The Problem

  • Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and onchocerciasis are widespread problems throughout the country.
  • The country’s health system needs to be strengthened.
  • Nutrition education is a critical need.

What HKI Is Doing

In 2005, Helen Keller International established an office in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); current programs include:

Essential Nutrition Actions
Helen Keller International, in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), trains community volunteers in the Essential Nutrition Actions framework and key family practices, and promotes awareness within communities. HKI supports three local NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that work with 50 village development committees. HKI also develops behavior change communication (BCC) materials on family practices for the prevention and treatment of diarrhea.  

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Vitamin A Supplementation
Since 2006, in partnership with UNICEF, HKI has supported Vitamin A supplementation campaigns that also include de-worming. In 2008, about 9.9 million children 6 to 59 months old received supplements.

Vitamin A supplementation has been integrated into National Immunization Days (NIDs) against polio, tetanus, and measles, as well as into the Community-Directed Treatment with Ivermectin (CDTI) system which delivers the drug that controls onchocerciasis.

Vitamin A supplementation is also routinely offered to post-partum women in 57 health zones throughout four provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a pilot program to provide routine vitamin A supplementation for children 6 months old has been organized in ten of the 57 health zones.

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Zinc Supplementation
In partnership with the IMA/AXxes USAID project, Helen Keller International helps strengthen the country’s health system by providing technical advice for Community-Based Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (C-IMICI) activities for children under five.  The project also introduces providing zinc supplementation as part of managing diarrheal diseases in 57 health zones throughout four provinces. To date, more than 331,382 children under five with diarrhea have received zinc supplements.

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Food Fortification
HKI chairs the DRC Food Fortification Alliance, which works closely with the private sector to develop a global strategic plan for creating a favorable food fortification environment within the DRC.  A strategic plan for food fortification in DRC has been drafted.

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Food Security
In partnership with WWF and three local NGOs, HKI supports the ability of community members to process local agricultural products in 50 villages in order to improve their food security by providing equipment to grind corn and cassava, and shell peanuts. We also conducted market and socio-economic surveys, as well as a study about the nutrition knowledge, practices and coverage (KPC) of the 50 villages within the project area.

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