Insight report: the need for nurses in DR Congo

An insight report on the situation of healthcare in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, providing context as to why training nurses in essential for driving change in the sector.

The DRC demonstrates tragically poor indicators for development and despite some progress in recent years, access to quality health care is elusive and leads to unquantifiable numbers of preventable deaths: in the latest Human Development Report, the country ranks 176th of 188 countries with a human development index of 0.423 placing it in the bottom 10% by development standards.

That said, if one is looking for data to demonstrate the need for better healthcare and training of medical personnel in the DRC, it is hard to make an empirical case. Whilst anyone working there can detail the situations they have faced, proving that they are beyond anecdotal is hard. Described as a “statistical tragedy”.

This report sets out the situation in the healthcare sector in the DRC providing socioeconomic context as to why investment and reform are desperately needed and offers a compelling case for why training nurses is essential for driving necessary change in the sector and saving lives in the process.

ISSI is the leading institution for training nurses in DRC and its programme focuses on vocational training in the healthcare sector, preparing students with much-needed skills for responding to the national health crisis. In a country with such a high mortality rate, and a poor health care system which, due to the scarcity of doctors, largely depends on nurses, most of whom are poorly trained, ISSI plays a highly important role.

It is currently ranked as the foremost nursing institution in the country. Its teaching method (competency-based training, with a curriculum that alternates theoretical classes with practical sessions) helps the students to have a more integrated knowledge of the medical and nursing sciences, and prepares them to manage diverse, and sometimes complicated, clinical situations.

Well trained nurses are scarce. Due to the poor infrastructure and health risks such as Ebola, investment into the national healthcare sector is much needed. Students at ISSI receive training aimed at improving the overall healthcare services on a national level, with improved teaching methods and an individual support system for students through a mentoring programme.


View from Kinshasa, Dr Ese Diejomaoh

In a country with such a high mortality rate, and a poor health care system which, due to the scarcity of doctors, largely depends on nurses, most of whom are poorly trained, ISSI plays a highly important role. ISSI’s graduates are in high demand; most of the major hospitals in Kinshasa insist on employing only ISSI graduates because of their competency. Very often, they end up assuming supervisory or training roles in these hospitals and transferring their competency to their colleagues.

Recently, ISSI graduates are also making a name for themselves as “Corporate Nurses”, (a Nurse who works in the dispensary of a Corporate firm). Earlier in August, one of them saved the life of the CEO of the Firm she works with (name withheld) by her quick clinical intervention. He went into a severe clinical shock, and while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, the Nurse administered emergency care to him, with the few means available in the dispensary. In the ICU of the Hospital, he was transferred to congratulate her “great nursing reflexes”, and even tried to “steal her off her employers”…

ISSI’s reputation goes beyond its capital city, as shown by the fact that it has received requests to train nurses for major hospitals of the Country’s other provinces (North Kivu, South Kivu, Western Kasai, Maniema, Tshopo, Haut-Katanga). It is expected that, with its wide experience in nurse training, its soon-to-begin midwifery programme will contribute greatly towards reducing maternal mortality rates in the country.

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