AMED was founded in 2001 as a non-profit associ ation consisting of 16 members, primarily residents in Kinshasa. Members of AMED are all active community development outside of AMED and serve AMED as volunteers. AMED forms a conceptual framework for the various problems facing the Church and an active support tool to help resolve these reflections, that is, some of the challenges facing the grassroots.
Congo is the second largest country in Africa and at 66 million has the 4th highest population behind Ethiopia, Egypt and Nigeria. Its GDP is tied for last place on the World Bank list at $160 (2009) per head compared to the USA which is at $45,562 per person. In Congo, one can expect to live 47.8 years. In Canada that expectation is 80.2 years. Even within Congo there are variations in the standard of living. In general, 75% of the population lives on less than $2 per day. However, in rural Mungindu, people generally live on less $0.66 per day. Again in Congo, one in about five births the child dies, and about one in five do not make it to 5 years of age. In Mungindu these statistics are unknown but considered to be much worse.
For such a large country, Congo actually has a pretty well organized health system. The country is divided into about 512 health zones (HZ) of about 100,000 people or so. Each zone has a reference hospital (HGR) and a number of 'satellite' health clinics (CS) and few reference health clinics (CSR) offering more services. It all looks good on paper but the structure is no good without adequate staff and finances to fill it in. Since the health system's inception 20 years ago, the national government has asked for assistance in managing it. In response, churches and other NGOs have adopted an HZ filling in the missing pieces, which has been basically everything.
AMED's considerable experience has come up with the following problem list. Firstly, records are poorly kept and knowledge on how to keep statistics is inadequate. Secondly, clinics and hospitals are underutilized. Clinics that normally should cover a population of 4 to 8 thousand received only 1-2 visits per day. That is at most, 500 visits per year. This is hardly enough to pay for the nurse working at the clinic. Many of the clinics work out of grass huts with broken blood pressure meters and manned by poorly trained nurses. Finally, they found that programs that were well funded did surprisingly well. A highly financed immunization program has resulted in a population over 80% covered.
- Strengthen the capacity for grassroots intervention by the Church morally, technically, financially and materially;
- Fostering better integration of the grassroots in the spiritual and economic development through income generating activities;
- Stimulating self-sustaining entrepreneurship among the grassroots;
- Support and encourage social and economic initiatives to promote grassroots self-promotion;
- Combat poverty and ignorance among the grassroots through training, peace education, health and entrepreneurship.
Since its inception, AMED has accomplished the following actions:
- Managers for a rural development, peace & health project funded by CIDA & MBMSI
- Support for the development of new statutes of the CEFMC (Restructuring)
- Support for the resolution of the conflict that struck CEFMC in 2006
- Managed an assistance project to victims of the torrential rain in Kikwit,
- Support for procurement of 7 health facilities in the vicinity of Kikwit.
The AMED strategy is to focus on DRC health zones. These are officially recognized structures instituted by the government though often poorly supported. AMED has laid out a well thought out approach. Firstly, improve governance at all levels. Secondly, increase competence through training. Thirdly, enrich health zone supervision by encouraging regular and well organized mentoring and monitoring of supervisors. Fourthly, build up the facilities to assure a minimum amount of equipment for each clinic. Fifthly, enhance drug supply. And finally, expand community involvement by helping the community and the church better organize themselves into supportive health associations.
AMED realizes that sustainable health structures in the context of poverty necessitate attention be paid to economics. To this end AMED has recruited experience within its membership that includes working with farmer associations and village banks.