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We set out to address the health concerns of the farming communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) had invested in agricultural and economic development. 
The health and wellbeing of communities is es

We set out to address the health concerns of the farming communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) had invested in agricultural and economic development. The health and wellbeing of communities is es

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Thanks so much Chioma and Lwala! We have scheduled some informal key informant interviews with cooperative members this week to understand the context in Kirotche and Katana health Zones. From HEAL Africa's experience on Idjwi island, however, we know that significant barriers to accessing maternal and child health care there do include finance, geographic distance and poor road conditions, as well as quality of care. This is why HEAL's Safe Motherhood program incorporates components to support health zone supervision and management, to supplement essential meds and equipment, and to train nurses, as well as reinforcements to the existing referral system from traditional birth attendants to bring women into clinics, in addition to addressing the demand side of services (through insurance cooperatives and behavior change communication for essential family practices). It's a really important point though that you both make - we will address these assumptions about access in our upcoming prototype. We do welcome any insights from Lwala Community Alliance experience. Cheers!

Hi there - really impressive developments you've made in the past few weeks - congratulations! Seems like the use of cell phone messaging is a good way you've discovered to reach community members. Maybe you can also work with other government and ngo actors in the area to determine what communications campaigns and materials already exist for prenatal and newborn care in the communities you're serving and see if you can't just reinforce what they're already doing through partnership? It's great to consider service quality and use, but if you're piloting a new idea for quality improvement, you may want to concentrate your efforts and resources there and see if you can't just partner with an organization that specializes in health communications? Maybe your staff bandwidth is able to handle both though, in which case go for it!

Hi there - this is a great idea. I'm working in the DRC and have seen projects implemented here that have addressed some of the components in your idea separately, not together. The GDRC with support from UNICEF, EU, H4+ and other donors, has piloted maternal and child health kits to accelerate reduction of maternal and child mortality for MDGs 4 & 5 by 2015 - this includes kits for health centers and hospitals with essential medicines and supplies for safe delivery and newborn care. But they also include kits for families at home, the idea is to bring critical supplies to households in target communities to ensure they have the materials necessary to a) bring with them to health center for appropriate care (gloves for example for safe delivery) and to b) treat killer diseases at home (diarrhea, fever, and malnutrition). Have you ever considered the option to pilot an extension of your kit model to households?
The other project I've seen in N Kivu is designed by the NGO Global Strategies in partnership with HEAL Africa and provides support through a tablet-based system to heath personnel to follow protocol for newborn care and enter data for M&E. The nursing staff picked it up immediately and were able to see the benefits to their work - i think that's a critical element for success is making sure the tool doesn't complicate staff routines and they can quickly see the added value.
Good luck with next steps!