Country Spotlight: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Our Work in Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) began supporting critical HIV and AIDS services in the DRC in 2001, providing funding and technical assistance to prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) programs implemented by the Kinshasa School of Public Health and the University of North Carolina. Since 2001, EGPAF has implemented and scaled up access to HIV testing and counseling, early infant HIV diagnostics (EID), adult and pediatric HIV care and treatment, tuberculosis (TB) and HIV co-infection management, sexually transmitted infection identification and treatment, and sexual and gender-based violence services. As of June 2015, EGPAF was working in 392 sites, covering 57 health zones in the DRC.
As an implementing partner to DRC’s Ministry of Health, EGPAF provides targeted assistance to the National AIDS Control Program. In 2013, we helped update PMTCT guidelines to reflect current World Health Organization guidelines, which recommend lifelong ART among all HIV-positive pregnant and breastfeeding women (Option B+) – widely expanding the number of women who would gain access to lifelong treatment and prevention of vertical transmission of HIV. EGPAF supported both province- and site-level health systems to ensure implementation of these revised guidelines.
In addition to EGPAF’s direct support in provision of health services and advocacy for improved local policies, EGPAF is dedicated to advancing clinical and operations research to improve HIV prevention and care and treatment of HIV and AIDS. We are currently implementing the Elombe Study, with support from the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, which examines the Mentor Mother referral and defaulter tracing network to improve women’s attendance in antenatal care and access to PMTCT; and the Assessing Early Implementation of Option B+ in Kinshasa Study, funded by Dance Marathon at UCLA, which will examine outcomes of Option B+.
Key Projects in Democratic Republic of the Congo
Increasing Access to Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care (Project Kimia)
(2013 - 2019) Through this U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)-funded project, EGPAF provides support to 140 health facilities across Kinshasa and Tshopo provinces. Kimia aims to improve utilization of PMTCT services, strengthen support for victims of sexual and gender-based violence, and increase access to care for TB and HIV co-infection.
Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (Elikya FARDC)
(2014 - 2018) EGPAF works in collaboration with Population Services International, DRC’s Department of Defense, the National AIDS Control Program, and the National Army Program to Fight AIDS to support adult and pediatric HIV care and treatment activities across the Kinshasa, Haut Katanga and Tshopo provinces. Through this program, EGPAF supports training and mentorship of health workers based at facilities serving the military and their families. We provide family counseling and patient education on HIV prevention, care and treatment, as well as psychosocial support programs to children at supported health facilities; supportive supervision of health workers to ensure accurate and effective HIV diagnostics at laboratories; coordination of regular partner meetings to ensure routine planning among key stakeholders; and management of program data review, analysis and exchange visits between target provinces for best practice sharing among supported sites. EGPAF currently supports 10 sites across the six provinces under this project.
The Integrated HIV/AIDS Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (ProVIC)
(2009 - 2016) ProVIC is the U.S. Agency for International Development’s most substantial HIV program in DRC. Its mission is to reduce the incidence and prevalence of HIV in Bas Congo, Katanga, Kinshasa, and Orientale, and Sud Kivu provinces, while supporting those living with HIV and their families. By integrating comprehensive HIV and AIDS services into local, general care sites, ProVIC seeks to improve access to care while fostering community ownership of health systems. Under this program, EGPAF is responsible for PMTCT and EID activities. In 2010, EGPAF established a network to provide increased access to EID services among HIV-exposed infants in areas surrounding major cities. Since DNA/PCR testing became available in DRC in mid-2010, EGPAF has led the way in collection, transportation, and swift return of infant HIV diagnostics and linkage to pediatric care and treatment. Originally slated to end in 2014, ProVIC was extended through January 2016 in six provinces (Haut Katanga, Haut Lomami, Lualaba, Kinshasa, Ituri and Tshopo), with EGPAF as the main PMTCT implementing partner.
Providing a Comprehensive Continuum of Care and Treatment Services in DRC (Project Malamu)
(2011 - 2016) Project Malamu, a CDC/PEPFAR-funded project, takes a comprehensive approach to improving the continuum of care in HIV services in Kinshasa and Haut Katanga provinces. Malamu has focused on providing comprehensive services in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Likasi. These services include PMTCT, pediatric and adult HIV care and treatment, syphilis testing and treatment, counseling among victims of sexual and gender-based violence, TB/HIV co-infection identification and management, and male involvement. Project Malamu aims to increase the quality and coverage of a comprehensive group of health services in facility and community settings, while focusing on local ownership and sustainable approaches.