UK's new mission in DRC: Rebuilding the health care system

A medical staff checks a child for signs of malnourishment in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by: Russell Watkins / Department for International Development / CC BY-SA

Each year, 64,000 children will receive vaccinations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. That is one of the targets the United Kingdom has set under its latest commitment to the troubled African country.

The pledge emerged during the March 27 visit of U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague to the country’s eastern region. He traveled there with Angelina Jolie, the U.N. refugee agency’s special envoy.

The commitment involves a five-year, 179 million pound ($271 million) health program, which, aside from supporting vaccinations, will fund the training of health workers, supply contraception, distribute anti-malaria bed nets to pregnant women and children, and provide care to victims of sexual violence.

The program will operate across a tenth of the country, a press release noted on Wednesday.

“As we have travelled around the area, I have been struck not only by the human cost of these crimes but also by the limited facilities and resources available to support survivors,” Hague said in a joint statement with U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening.

“As part of the work I am championing to tackling the culture of impunity for sexual violence in conflict, I have announced project funding to help increase capacity for investigating sexual violence crimes. This announcement from [the Department for International Development] of funding to support the development of medical facilities and capacity building is essential to help create sustainable peace and security in DRC.”

Preventing gender-based violence is a pillar of Greening’s strategy to advance girls and women’s rights and opportunities.

“William Hague is rightly focusing on preventing sexual violence and we are working across government to urge an end to violence against women and girls,” said Greening.

In an email to Devex, a spokesperson for DfID said the program will be implemented by the nongovernmental organization IMA World Health, in partnership with several other NGOs including World Vision and Caritas Congo.

The allocation of funds, the spokesperson said, will be flexible “in order to allow the programme to respond to changing needs over time.”

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.

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