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Six million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will have access to essential healthcare under a new British-backed programme, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced today during his visit to Eastern DRC, in a joint statement with the International Development Secretary Justine Greening.
The new £179 million five-year healthcare programme reflects the UK’s commitment to tackling the underlying causes and effects of the conflict in the DRC. It will operate across 10% of the DRC and will rebuild clinics, train health workers, supply essential medicines and equipment, and improve water and sanitation. This will help the Congolese health system to provide basic health services to the Congolese people, including care for survivors of sexual violence.
The announcement was made as the Foreign Secretary met survivors of sexual violence in the Eastern DRC. His visit is part of a UK initiative to agree new international action to prevent the use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:
Years of conflict have devastated the people of DRC and Britain is determined to help in their time of need. 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.
Today’s announcement means we will help to get broader health services up and running by building and renovating clinics, training and supervising doctors and nurses, and supplying essential medicine and equipment.
This programme will strengthen the Congolese healthcare system and help the people of DRC to rebuild their country.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
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. 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 DFID of funding to support the development of medical facilities and capacity building is essential to help create sustainable peace and security in DRC.
In supporting the delivery of a comprehensive package of basic health services, the programme will:
Improve women’s health by supplying contraception, providing emergency obstetric care and ensuring trained health workers are present at births
Vaccinate 64,000 children against measles each year
Distribute bed-nets to pregnant women and young children, in order to protect them from malaria
Train health professionals to care for survivors of sexual and gender based violence
The DRC is one of the world’s poorest countries, whose healthcare system has been decimated by conflict and under-investment.