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Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Masumbuko C.K.,HEAL Africa | Hawkes M.,University of Toronto
African Journal of Paediatric Surgery | Year: 2010

Background: We report a case of heavy intestinal infestation with Ascaris lumbricoides complicating the surgical management of a gunshot injury to the abdomen. Co-existent traumatic and infectious pathologies in this case highlight the complex burden of illness among children living in areas of violent conflict, with clinical relevance to trauma surgeons in the tropics. Source

Claude K.M.,HEAL Africa | Juvenal K.L.,HEAL Africa | Hawkes M.,University of Toronto
Maternal and Child Nutrition | Year: 2012

Maternal periconceptual folate supplementation reduces the incidence of neural tube defects; however, in settings where population-level food fortification is not available, it is not clear how best to promote this prevention strategy. Guided by a knowledge-to-action methodology, we used mixed quantitative and qualitative methods to define the local disease burden, then designed, implemented and evaluated a culturally tailored educational intervention in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where resource limitations and threats to human security contribute to restricted capacity for the prevention and management of congenital malformations. A descriptive case series of 27 patients undergoing surgery for spina bifida demonstrated a short-term mortality of 15% and long-term disability in survivors. A survey of knowledge, attitudes and practices demonstrated a low level of folate awareness (53%) among women of reproductive age. Focus group discussions revealed exotic aetiologic views, significant gender issues and several barriers to folate use. A culturally tailored radio broadcast and an educational video were designed and produced locally based on qualitative and quantitative findings. Evaluation of the video documented high levels of viewer satisfaction and unequivocal knowledge gain (P≤0.001). We conclude that spina bifida poses a significant burden on affected patients and their families in the African context, but folate is underutilized as a prevention strategy. Patient education through video media results in increased awareness and understanding of spina bifida and folate, a first step in empowering women to reduce the risk of spina bifida in their children in the absence of population-wide food fortification. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

Malemo Kalisya L.,HEAL Africa | Lussy Justin P.,HEAL Africa | Kimona C.,HEAL Africa | Nyavandu K.,HEAL Africa | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Background: The epidemic of gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has garnered popular media attention, but is incompletely described in the medical literature to date. In particular, the relative importance of militarized compared to civilian rape and the impact on vulnerable populations merits further study. We describe a retrospective case series of sexual abuse among children and youth in eastern DRC. Methods: Medical records of patients treated for sexual assault at HEAL Africa Hospital, Goma, DRC between 2006 and 2008 were reviewed. Information extracted from the chart record was summarized using descriptive statistics, with comparative statistics to examine differences between pediatric (≤18 yrs) and adult patients. Findings: 440 pediatric and 54 adult sexual abuse cases were identified. Children and youth were more often assaulted by someone known to the family (74% vs 30%, OR 6.7 [95%CI 3.6-12], p<0.001), and less frequently by military personnel (13% vs 48%, OR 0.14 [95%CI 0.075-0.26], p<0.001). Delayed presentation for medical care (>72 hours after the assault) was more common in pediatric patients (53% vs 33%, OR 2.2 [95%CI 1.2-4.0], p = 0.007). Physical signs of sexual abuse, including lesions of the posterior fourchette, hymeneal tears, and anal lesions, were more commonly observed in children and youth (84% vs 69%, OR 2.3 [95%CI 1.3-4.4], p = 0.006). Nine (2.9%) pediatrics patients were HIV-positive at presentation, compared to 5.3% of adults (p = 0.34). Interpretation: World media attention has focused on violent rape as a weapon of war in the DRC. Our data highlight some neglected but important and distinct aspects of the ongoing epidemic of sexual violence: sexual abuse of children and youth. © 2011 Mosch et al. Source

Ditekemena J.,Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation | Bonane W.,HEAL Africa | Colebunders R.,University of Antwerp | Koole O.,London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Background: Retaining patients with HIV infection in care is still a major challenge in sub- Saharan Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where the antiretroviral treatment (ART) coverage is low. Monitoring retention is an important tool for evaluating the quality of care. Methods and Findings: A review of medical records of HIV-infected children was performed in three health facilities in the DRC: the Amo-Congo Health center, the Monkole Clinic in Kinshasa, and the HEAL Africa Clinic in Goma. Medical records of 720 children were included. Kaplan Meier curves were constructed with the probability of retention at 6 months, 1 year, 2 years and 3 years. Retention rates were: 88.2% (95% CI: 85.1%-90.8%) at 6 months; 85% (95% CI: 81.5%-87.6%) at one year; 79.4% (95%CI: 75.5%-82.8%) at two years and 74.7% (95% CI: 70.5%-78.5%) at 3 years. The retention varied across study sites: 88.2%, 66.6% and 92.5% at 6 months; 84%, 59% and 90% at 12 months and 75.7%, 56.3% and 85.8% at 24 months respectively for Amo-Congo/Kasavubu, Monkole facility and HEAL Africa. After multivariable Cox regression four variables remained independently associated with attrition: study site, CD4 cell count <350 cells/μL, children younger than 2 years and children whose caregivers were member of an independent church. Conclusions: Attrition remains a challenge for pediatric HIV positive patients in ART programs in DRC. In addition, the low coverage of pediatric treatment exacerbates the situation of pediatric HIV/AIDS. © 2014 Ditekemena et al. Source

Kalisya L.M.,HEAL Africa | Nyavandu K.,HEAL Africa | Machumu B.,HEAL Africa | Kwiratuwe S.,HEAL Africa | Rej P.H.,University of Florida
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

An increase of congenital anomalies in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been reported. Congenital malformations (CMs) are not uncommon among newborns and, if left untreated, can contribute to increased neonate morbidity and mortality. Methods Medical records of all individuals admitted with a diagnosed CM to HEAL Africa Teaching Hospital (Goma, DRC) from 2002 to 2014 (n=1301) were reviewed. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics to summarize chart records, and inferential statistics to investigate significant barriers to earlier treatment. Results Since 2012, the number of patients treated each year for CMs has increased by over 200% compared to the average annual number of cases treated from 2002-2011. Though delayed presentation of patients to HEAL Hospital was very obvious, with an average age of 8.2 years. We find that patient age has been significantly decreasing (p=0.037) over time. The average distance separating patients from HEAL Hospital was 178 km, with approximately one third living 350 km or further from the treatment center. Distance is the most significant (p=3.33x10-6 ) barrier to earlier treatment. When controlling for an interaction between gender and the use of mercy funds, we also find that female patients are at a significant (p=1.04x10-3 ) disadvantage to undergo earlier corrective surgery. This disadvantage is further illustrated by our finding that 89% of women and girls, and over 81% of all patients, required mercy funds to cover the cost of surgery in 2014. Lastly, the mortality rate for surgery was low and averaged less than 1.0%. Conclusion Despite a formal end to the war in 2009, and an overall increase in individuals undergoing corrective surgery, distance, poverty, and gender are still massive barriers to CM care at HEAL Hospital, Goma, DRC. We find that patients have been successfully treated earlier by HEAL, although the average age of CM correction in 2014 (4.9 years) is still above average for Sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, we advocate for further funding from the National Government and international health agencies to enable continued treatment of CMs in rural residents of the eastern DRC. Distance, the most significant barrier to care can be mitigated by the implementation of additional mobile clinics and the construction of regional surgery centers along with the associated hiring of surgeons trained in CM repair. © 2015 Malemo Kalisya et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source

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