The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has an infant mortality rate of 73.15 per 1,000 live births—one of the highest in the world. The USAID-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program in DRC, in partnership with the Ministry of Health (MoH), is working to implement an action plan for improving access to life-saving medicines such as oxytocin, misoprostol, and chlorhexidine. These medicines have the potential to significantly reduce maternal, neonatal, and infant mortality.
On December 17, 2014, DRC’s Ministry of Public Health and (SIAPS) launched the release of an updated Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (MNCH) Standard Treatment Guidelines (STGs) in a ceremony in Kinshasa. Over 80 representatives from the MoH, SIAPS, UNICEF, DFID, CIDA, World Vision, and a number of other international organizations attended the ceremony.
Ms. Nora Madrigal, representing USAID, noted that SIAPS will continue to play an important role in supporting the MoH to ensure the availability of these life-saving medicines. The Secretary General of the MoH, Dr. Mukengashayi Kupa, thanked the STG working group as well as SIAPS for their work on reducing maternal, infant and neonatal deaths in the DRC and expressed his desire for a long-term partnership between the Ministry and SIAPS.
In other news, SIAPS also sponsored a roundtable commemorating the 30th anniversary of the National Insitute for Biomedical Research (NIBR) from December 4-6, 2014 in Kinshasa. Robert Tuala Tuala, SIAPS’s Provincial Technical Advisor, spoke on a number of topics including promoting rational drug use, revising the national list of essential medicines and pharmacovigilance. Representing NIBR was Professor Mashako Mamba, Minister Emeritus, who spoke at length about the history of NIBR and its contributions to strengthening DRC’s public health system.