Kabongo Hospital, Democratic Republic of Congo
Kabongo Hospital, located in the northwest region of the Katanga Province, is the largest hospital managed by the United Methodist Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The hospital was constructed in 1945 during the Belgian Colonial Period and officially opened the doors in 1957. The DRC Ministry of Health managed Kabongo Hospital until 1985 when the government requested that the United Methodist Church assume managerial responsibility of the hospital due to the challenges of supporting a health care system in a country the size of Western Europe. Missionaries from Switzerland ran the hospital from 1985, but were forced to leave Kabongo in 1998 when civil war broke out across the country.
Serving a catchment of more than 250,000, Kabongo Hospital has 120 in-patient beds, 4 medical doctors, 37 nurses, 2 lab technicians. The UMC North Katanga Conference Medical Coordinating Committee, led by United Methodist Missionary Dr. Guy Kasanka, provides governance and oversight to the hospital.
Kabongo Hosptial works with more than 300 trained community health workers to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and preventive childhood illnesses, funded primarily through UMCOR Malaria Control Program and the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund.
Often patients live in remote villages where transportation to a hospital is near impossible. Community heath workers help bridge this gap. They are volunteers who live in rural communities and have received training in basic health care and prevention strategies. Many times, they can address many health ailments in rural, hard-to-reach places before the need for hospital services arise.
Kabongo Hospital itself provides the following services:
- Internal medicine
The primary ailments that affect patients in Kabongo include malaria, tuberculosis, respiratory infections and HIV/AIDS.
Providing Health Care in Remote Areas
Despite the needs and challenges outlined below, Kabongo Hospital provides lifesaving care to more than a quarter of a million persons in Kabongo and surrounding villages. Many of these people do not have the means to reach the hospital should a serious illness or injury arise. To help mitigate the need for inpatient care, Kabongo works with a group of some 300 community health workers. They are trained volunteers who live in rural areas. Using their training in health care and disease prevention, community health workers address many health ailments in remote areas, preventing the need for direct hospital services.
Even in the town of Kabongo, the hospital still deals with major challenges that come from working in a developing country. Some current issues include the lack of electricity in areas of the hospital, including the operating room. There is also a scarcity of water during the dry season. Continuing shortages in funds, medicines and space to meet the needs of the patients also present major challenges for staff.
How You Can Help
In such a challenging environment, the need for increased assistance is urgent. If you are interested in meeting specific needs at the Methodist Hospital of Dabou, contact UMCOR Health.