Clémence, a nurse at the service of his people

The Healthy School and Village program helps the inhabitants of Banalia to fight against infectious diseases.

Typhaine Daems
Clémence en train de manipuler un flacon de vaccin
UNICEF DRC Prinsloo
29 November 2020

“My centre serves 8,000 people, of which 1,500 are children less than five years”, explains Clémence, a qualified nurse at the health centre of Banalia, in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo. During the last years, the situation at the health centre has changed a lot. “I was receiving twenty cases of diarrhoea every month”, recalls the nurse. “Today, this number has declined to less than 5”, continues Clémence, convinced that it is a result obtained due to the improvement of hygienic conditions and access to clean water. Since 2014, his health centre has been located in a zone where the Healthy School and Village program is being implemented by the government and UNICEF to reduce acute respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases and malaria.

“I love my work”, explains Clémence, very engaged with his community. He knows the extent to which the health of children is important for the future of the country and depends on the quality of services and intervention. Clémence is not satisfied with treating children but he also ensures that they would not fall sick.

"I promote family practices among the inhabitants of the community because they are essential”, emphasizes Clémence. The nurse also sees to it that every parent that comes to him receives a free mosquito net treated with insecticide. “The parents know to which point mosquito nets are important in protecting their children from malaria”, explains Clémence.

 

Clémence donne le vaccin à un bébé
UNICEF DRC Prinsloo

When Josée came in for consultation to weigh her baby and follow its growth, Clémence took his time to talk to her about the importance of vaccination, breastfeeding, birth registration, etc. the nurse equally gave her an insecticide treated mosquito net to protect her family from malaria.

Josée’s baby is in perfect health and is growing very well. Since Josée lives just a few minutes away from the centre, it was easy for her to come for consultation. However, it is not the case for everyone in Banalia: many inhabitants live at more than ten kilometres away from the health centre, without any means of transport.

“We have set up an advanced health post to reach the most remote populations”, explains Clémence proudly. Thanks to this health post, all the inhabitants have access to routine health care. “However vaccination poses a problem”, continues the nurse, explaining that they do not have refrigerators to store the vaccines. “During the raining season, the roads are impassable”, emphasizes Clémence. When the rains come in, it is impossible for the nurse to get to the advanced health post and the populations must stay for weeks without consultations.

Thanks to the Healthy School and Village Program supported by FCDOUSAID, the governments of Japan and Sweden and the Brussels-Capital Region, more than 11 million Congolese living in rural areas have gained access to basic sanitation.