World AIDS Day 2008 came with a new vision of leadership. Africo Resources consulted with Dr Jimmy, the Zonal Medical Officer to get buy-in on the commemoration of the World AIDS Day celebrations. Africo identified the need for an awareness campaign that would reach out to the remote areas within the Lualaba health zone. It was agreed to drive a vehicle convoy some 40km from Lualaba Health Centre through to Kisankala Village. The participants stopped in six villages along the road to relate HIV/AIDS awareness messages, to correct existing misconceptions and to sensitize the community to use the newly-launched mobile voluntary testing service to test for HIV in order to know their status.
The key speakers were Dr. Jimmy, Zonal Medical Officer, Dr. Evelyne, Africo, Dr. Irene, Lualaba, Mr. William, Phelps Dodge, Chef de Secteur, Masengo and Chef Nsemba from Kisankala.
Africo also organized educational materials including T-shirts, banners and brochures which were used to emphasize the theme messages.
A total of 1,140 people attended the HIV/AIDS campaign throughout the six villages. 2,500 male and 500 female condoms were distributed amongst the villagers. The condoms were kindly donated by AXXES (the USAID funded body that supports the Lualaba zonal medical centre)
This year’s campaign came at an opportune time with the launching of the mobile voluntary counseling and testing service, which will start operating in Kisankala village on 2 December 2008.
The topics covered included the definition of HIV/ AIDS, and transmission, prevention and living with HIV. Emphasis was also placed on condom education and promotion. Two theatre groups, the Kisankala Women’s Theatre group and the Groupe SMK from Kolwezi did various educational skits and demonstrations on the subject.
The event was covered by television journalists from Kolwezi- TVCK who aired it on the regional television station and made distributable copies for further educational purposes.
Team at Lualaba Health Centre
Dr Jimmy at Lualaba
Africo employees and Kisankala village members
Malaria is the number one cause of mortality and morbidity in the DRC. Children under five years’ old and pregnant women are the most affected. The cost of treatment for simple malaria is way above the reach of many families still living below the poverty line. It for this reason that Africo has joined hands with the Kisankala community to address this urgent need, particularly just before the onset of the rainy season in October. The Kisankala village is faced by many challenges when it comes to malaria prevention. There is poor hygiene, sanitation and lack of drainage especially in the rainy season. A village sanitation committee has been trained and equipped by the mine to address environmental cleanliness to eradicate breeding sites.
Africo also collaborated with the Kisankala health committee for the launch of the insecticide-treated-nets campaign on the 16th of Sept 2008. The Lualaba Zonal Medical Doctor, Dr Jimmy Ngoie, was the guest of honor. Also in attendance were the Village Chief’s Secretary, Mr Lubondo, the Area Senior Nurse official, Mr Alex, the Kisankala Development Committee, community members and Africo employees. The theme for the campaign was “Malaria Prevention Saves Lives!”
The crowd enjoyed an informative education theatre performance by the Kisankala Women’s Group. Dr Ngoie was invited to give a speech and he provided health education on malaria; causes, symptoms, treatment and emphasized on the need to prevent malaria. Dr Evelyne Assanga from Africo demonstrated the use of the insecticide-treated net and reiterated the need to re-treat the nets every six months.
Mr Lubondo, on behalf of the Village Chief, gave a speech of thanks to Africo and reinforced the malaria prevention campaign message.
A total of 400 insecticide-treated nets were later distributed; 37 nets went to our employees both in Lubumbashi and on site, five nets each went to Kisanfu clinic and Lualaba Health Centre and 353 nets were distributed to each household in the Kisankala village.
Kisankala Village during the wet season
Dr Evelyne, Mr. Alex, Dr Jimmy and Mr. Lubondo
Swanmines, health committee team ready to distribute nets
Expectant mother receives a net
Kisankala mother receiving a net
The DRC is currently undertaking a nationwide measles vaccination campaign. Africo Resources has played its part by handling the logistics for two and a half days by carrying the vaccines and personnel between Kisanfu and Kisankala village, the two closest permanent settlements to the Kalukundi mine site. The campaign has been an unqualified success, despite a few temporary sad faces.
Dr Evelyne on hand
Dr Evelyne and the team
After the jab (ouch!)
Assistance with logistics
Measles vaccination campaign
Kisankala vaccination team