Malnutrition In Decline in Congo

A community health volunteer checking a child’s nutritional health. Source: Presbyterian Mission

There has been a 10% decline in the proxy prevalence rate for malnutrition in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to new data released earlier this year. The new figures suggest that, in the past six years, the proxy prevalence rate declined from 14.6% to 4.6%.

(The proxy prevalence rate is the statistical metric used to estimate the number of children suffering from malnutrition in a given geographic area.)

Over the past five years, volunteers such as mission co-worker, Inge Sthreshley, have quarterly measured the circumferences of every child’s arms between 6 months to 5 years of age in each village in the province of North Ubangi in Northwest Congo as part of a screening process to measure the effectiveness of international missions, NGO’s, and government nutrition programs.

Inge Sthreshley works with the ASSR project (a French acronym that means Support to the Health System in DRC) and with the Presbyterian Communities of Kinshasa (CPK) and the Congo (CPC). A child of missionaries in Congo, Sthreshley’s work addresses the problems of malnutrition through education, subsistence farming and the implementation of low emission cook stoves.

Just last year alone, volunteers completed nearly one million screenings across the DRC.

Upon receiving the report citing malnutrition being in decline, Sthreshley emphasized the importance of collaboration between diverse partners to help make this a reality.

“Much of the credit for these results goes to the 2,500 plus community health volunteers and the young mothers’ support groups which they have organized,” she said. “They have been sharing information in their villages and neighborhoods on best practices for infant and young child feeding and have been carrying out the screening.

“Other important people are Mr. Papy Lengemo, his team of community animators, Mr. Narcisse Kimbondo, IMA’s nutritionist on staff in Nord Ubangi, and the provincial staff of the national nutrition program (PRONANUT) in Nord Ubangi. They trained the community health volunteers in nutrition education, screening, home gardening and how to carry out home visits to families with malnourished children.”

With the support of the British government, ASSR missionaries like Sthreshley partner with Congolese health workers to provide educational resources, community support services, and nutrition training classes at the village level to help parents ensure that children are adequately nourished.

Source: Presbyterian Mission