Medical Work in the Democratic Republic of Congo

by Dr Ngoie Yumba Serge


The medical work of the 38th Community Garanganze is concentrated in Katanga Province, especially in rural areas. This province, in the south east of the Dem. Rep. of Congo, has huge mineral resources. However, life is not easy for people, and their biggest challenges are the lack of water and electricity. Villagers collect water from the rivers, in spite of the high risk of disease, while others use taps or wells.


It is hard to reach certain areas because the road infrastructure is poor. The majority of the population is poor. Their lives depend on fishing and agriculture, but now there are few fish in the rivers and lakes. People struggle to afford food, education and medical care. In order to serve the people here well, we need ultrasound and X-ray equipment, beds and mattresses, and surgical instruments are crucial.


The conflict between the government and Mai-Mai rebels is another challenge in Katanga. Armed violence has resulted in the displacement of people who fled their villages in north-central and south Katanga Province. Due to the lack of security, displaced people are gripped with constant fear and are continually on the run.


While visiting places in Katanga, we sometimes face the threat of military action. We also come across empty villages as every house has been torn down. But we feel encouraged when we arrive at our hospitals and see many patients waiting for treatment, and listening to the gospel.


Mitwaba Hospital also closed because of the conflict. Dr Alain fled with sick patients who had undergone operations two days before the conflict started. He continued their treatment in a DP camp. He stayed there until the end of the war, then returned to Mitwaba and reopened the hospital.


Dr Alain was born in Lubumbashi and later studied medicine there. He spent a year at Mulongo Mission Hospital for training before taking over the running of the hospital in Mitwaba. A courageous and fearless Christian, Dr Alain continued to provide medical care to the small population that stayed in Mitwaba. He and his staff treated the injured, both soldiers and Mai-Mai prisoners, while the government doctors found it too dangerous to be there.


Mitwaba and the surrounding villages have been named 'the triangle of death' because of the insecurity and brutality suffered in that area. During this period, Dr Alain and his staff continued to save lives with their limited supply of medicines and equipment.


Such devotion increases the reputation of our hospitals and encourages sick patients to walk more than 320 km in the hope that something can be done for them. Despite the excellent services provided, renovation and rebuilding of our medical facilities is required, and new equipment is needed.


I live in Lubumbashi. However, I encourage and train staff not only in Lubumbashi, but also in the hospitals at Lwanza, Mitwaba and Mulongo. I am responsible for five hospitals and 15 clinics. Mulongo Hospital provides training for doctors and nurses who, once qualified, are sent to other hospitals and clinics. We have eight doctors in total and four doctors provided by the government.


With the help of others, we were able to provide funds to start the pharmacy and each hospital offers medication at affordable prices. Dr Fry visits twice a year and our doctors take advantage of his experience and learn from him. This year, with the help of Murray Stevenson, doctors from Belgium visited Mulongo Hospital and operated on 41 patients suffering with fistulas.


My hope for the future is that the hospitals and clinics will become self-sufficient, with good medical infrastructure and with an appropriate standard of equipment. Also that the government will pay the medical staff. Until now almost 95% of the staff wages have been covered by contributions from donors and patients.


Clinics in north Katanga receive medical supplies from Medical Missionary News. Other clinics and hospitals send finance and orders to Lubumbashi, and I act on their behalf to purchase their requests. The main challenge is transportation from Lubumbashi to the clinic or hospital.


The objectives of our work are to provide people with medical care and to show them the love of Jesus through the gospel. Some patients are Christians and others become Christians in the hospital.


Every morning we have devotions with the patients and medical staff. In the evenings, the chaplain visits in-patients to pray with them and encourage them with the gospel message. Such opportunities are followed up by hundreds of our churches throughout the province.


When a patient has an incurable disease, the chaplain shares with them the Christian message and the love of Christ. It is amazing to see the impact of medical work hand in hand with evangelism.


A 54-year-old woman who walked 351 km to reach Mulongo Hospital, had a gynaecological problem that required an operation. She was without hope, as everyone told her that it was too difficult to sort out. But at Mulongo, the staff said that something could be done to ease her suffering. The operation was successful. The chaplain, Bebe, talked to her about Jesus Christ and asked if she wanted to become a Christian. She accepted without hesitation. The love of the medical staff had impressed her. After three months, she returned home healed from her sickness and saved from her sin. We praise the Lord for this.


Thank you to all our partners who help and support the work in the Dem. Rep. of Congo. This country needs your prayers and partnership to see God's work continue, through medical work and evangelism.

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