HEAL Africa and Global Strategies responding in Goma

June 22, 2021
Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Interviewee
  • Dr. Joshua Bress
    Author
View of the active Mt. Nyiragongo volcano basin (Photo: Nina R, Wikimedia Commons)

On May 22, the Mt. Nyiragongo volcano north of Goma erupted, immediately endangering the lives of the nearly 1 million people who live in the city that borders Lake Kivu. Thousands fled their homes, seeking refuge in small towns outside of Goma, across the lake in Bukavu and in neighboring Rwanda.  While the slow moving lava did not reach Goma city center, the mass displacement of people and disruption of essential health services has left many Congolese people in danger.  

Global Strategies’ partner, HEAL Africa, stands ready to respond to this urgent crisis. Through natural disasters, Ebola outbreaks and war, HEAL Africa has been a constant source of community strength. Today, in partnership with Global Strategies, HEAL Africa is deploying its highly-trained maternal-child health teams to the areas hardest hit by the volcanic eruption. This work is underway and will focus on pregnant women, newborns, children living with HIV and vulnerable people at risk of malnutrition.  

Pregnant women and newborns are uniquely vulnerable during crises that force families from their homes and disrupt healthcare delivery. A pregnant woman carrying twins, a baby born small or a mother suddenly unable to produce milk because of lack of food -- each is a life-threatening emergency when health services are interrupted.  These families need more than clean water, shelter, security and food to avoid a tragedy. HEAL Africa and Global Strategies’ neonatal center of excellence are positioned to help, able to mobilize local teams -- teams already in Goma and ready to work -- to stabilize maternal-child healthcare delivery and provide definitive care when needed at HEAL Africa Hospital. The HEAL Africa teams will deploy to the Goma, Nyiragongo and Karisimbi Health Zones to conduct urgent maternal-newborn outreach, support on-site care delivery and transfer the sickest patients back to HEAL Africa when needed.

Local devastation near Goma after Mt. Nyiragongo eruption in May 2021 (Photo: HEAL Africa Facebook Timeline)

HEAL Africa and Global Strategies will also work around-the-clock to find children living with HIV who have been displaced by the volcano.  Our Children’s AIDS Program cares for more than 700 children on life-saving antiretroviral therapy.  Medication interruptions must be avoided at all costs to prevent disease progression and the development of medication resistance.  Using our digital database, Children’s AIDS Program community health workers will use phones and home visits to locate children and return them to care.  In addition, social workers will assist families whose homes have been destroyed by the lava north of Goma.  

HEAL Africa, in partnership with Global Strategies, opened the Neonatal Nursing Training Center of Excellence in Goma in the fall of 2013. (Photo: Cindy McWhorter, Global Strategies)

For nearly two decades, HEAL Africa and Global Strategies have worked together to develop highly-trained teams capable of caring for the most vulnerable. Today, following the volcanic eruption, these teams are in Goma delivering essential, advanced and life-saving emergency care without delay.  

Please support us by giving to the Goma Maternal Newborn Child Outreach program. With your direct donation to Global Strategies, 100% of all funds received will go directly to the work in Goma.

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Who could imagine in Africa in Congo, here, using a computer, using mobile phones to treat patients. We have learned this from Global Strategies. This is unique, in Congo, unique.
Dr. Justin Paluka, CEO HEAL Africa

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