Royal Philips has entered into a partnership with the Republic of the Congo’s Ministry of Health & Population and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to reduce the maternal and infant mortality rates in remote areas of the country.
Philips stated that the main objective of the partnership is to begin an ‘Emergency obstetric and newborn care’ (EmONC) programme. This aims to reduce the mortality rates in the country by 50% over the next five years.
The involved parties expect the programme to reach over 500,000 women and 70,000 newborns. It reportedly offers access to high quality and affordable maternal, neonatal and child healthcare.
The EmONC programme will start with the first phase focusing on five districts, including Talangai, Ouesso-Mokeko-Pikounda-Kabo, Sembe-Souanke, Zanaga-Bambama and Sibiti-Komono.
The programme will train midwives to ensure timely prevention and intervention during pregnancy and childbirth-related problems.
Republic of the Congo Minister for Health & Population Jacqueline Lydia Mikolo said: “The Government of the Republic of the Congo is committed to accelerating progress towards reducing maternal and newborn mortality. We are open to fostering collaborations that are dynamic and mutually beneficial, and we foresee great potential in this partnership with Philips and UNFPA.”
The programme will equip health facilities in remote parts of the Congo with solar power systems. It will also provide them with portable ultrasound and monitoring devices. This will allow healthcare specialists to manage high-risk pregnancies onsite and offer emergency obstetric and newborn care.
Community health workers will receive backpack outreach kits. These comprise of important equipment for assisting childbirth and a mobile phone for contacting remote technical support.
Congo’s Ministry of Health and Population will pay salaries to the officials involved in the programme. UNFPA will help strengthen the capabilities of midwives and Philips will offer technical support.
In the second phase, the EmONC programme will expand to cover 47 health districts in semi-urbanised and rural areas. These include Pool, Likouala, Cuvette, Cuvette-Ouest, Plateaux, Bouenza, Niari, Kouilou, Pointe Noire and other districts of Brazzaville.
UNFPA executive director Dr. Natalia Kanem said: “This innovative partnership will help get us closer to achieving our goal of zero maternal deaths in the Republic of the Congo by improving the emergency obstetric and neonatal care that people in rural and hard-to-reach communities receive.
“We are committed to leaving no one behind and hope this model will inspire others who share our goal of making pregnancy and childbirth safe everywhere.”