I’m currently in the DRC in my capacity as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development. Here is a blog following my meetings yesterday:
It is sometimes hard to comprehend the health statistics in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is a country where one fifth of children born do not reach their first birthday. And part of the story is that only one in four people have access to basic healthcare.
Here in Kinshasa yesterday, I sat alongside the DRC Minister of Health and formally launched DFID’s access to primary healthcare programme, “Accès aux Soins de Santé Primaires” (ASSP).
This major £182.9 million investment will improve access to primary healthcare for millions of Congolese. It will build clinics, provide equipment and medicines, improve management systems and train healthcare workers. For example, between now and 2015, it will ensure over 300,000 women give birth with the help of a trained attendant, and will provide 64,000 vaccinations a year to children. Importantly, it will work in close partnership with the government.
For these improvements to last, the government needs our help to take on more and more of the provision of healthcare. So I was heartened to hear the DRC Health Minister’s commitment to the ASSP programme and beyond. He faces huge challenges in building a healthy DRC. He will not face them alone.
I feel it would be of enormous help in informing Londoners of the day-to-day global importance of DFID if a Hampstead&Highgate Express reporter could accompany MP Featherstone on a trip similar to this one.