DRC: from awareness-raising to treatment of STI

In the Ngaba health zone in Kinshasa, Première Urgence Internationale runs awareness campaigns on STIs, including HIV/AIDS, followed by free screening tests in health centers.

Awareness-raising and care for sexually transmitted infections in the DRC by the NGO Première Urgence InternationaleRose and Astrid, Ngaba health zone, Kinshasa | © Première Urgence Internationale 

Rose, aged 19, originally lived in Kinshasa’s Kimbanseke commune. When she became pregnant this year, she contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI) which complicated her pregnancy. Despite efforts by her and her partner to treat it, they found no medical solution in their hometown.

At the start of her third trimester, Rose moved in with her grandparents in the commune of Ngaba. During a prenatal consultation at the Baobab maternity hospital, the gynecologist immediately referred Rose to Astrid, the nurse in charge of the health center, because of the symptoms she was presenting. Astrid was able to treat Rose immediately and free of charge, prescribing medication that led to a rapid recovery. However, the STI had already affected the health of the fetus, and Rose gave birth to a stillborn child.

Première Urgence Internationale offers free medical care for STIs to young people aged 15 to 24, as well as to pregnant and breast-feeding women. This assistance is provided by nurses in six health centers located in five health areas of the zone, namely Baobab, Bulambemba, Mateba, Mpila and Mukulua.

Astrid became a maternal support for Rose, who had lost her parents. Rose’s health has recovered, and her partner has also been treated to prevent transmission. In addition, Astrid has raised Rose’s awareness of the importance of wearing condoms to prevent future STIs, and Rose also benefits from free condoms distributed by Première Urgence Internationale in the health zone.

Awareness-raising and care for sexually transmitted infections in the DRC by the NGO Première Urgence InternationaleBalo, Ngaba health zone, Kinshasa © Première Urgence Internationale 

On the other hand, Balo, aged 23, has always lived in Mpila, in the Ngaba commune. He is friend with Paul, one of the four community relays trained and mobilized by Première Urgence Internationale in the Mpila health area. When Balo informed Paul that he was feeling ill and described his symptoms, Paul recommended him to participate in an awareness session on STI awareness session offered to young people. At the end of the session, Balo was referred to the health center for rapid screening tests and treatment after being diagnosed with genital herpes. Balo is now perfectly cured.

Like Rose, 6,553 young people, pregnant and breastfeeding women and people in prostitution have benefited from free STI treatment over the past three years. As in Balo’s case, community agents trained by Première Urgence Internationale have sensitized 221,890 people to identify STI symptoms in just the past year.

These activities were made possible with the support of the City of Paris.

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