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Stopping the Coronavirus Spread in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: A Unique Community-based Civil Society Intervention Providing Health Education and Psychosocial Support

Pictured: Community members in the DRC doing the psychosocial activity of empowerment and resilience

With the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) suffering from a triple tragedy—ongoing civil conflict, the Ebola epidemic, and now the COVID-19 pandemic – several local and international NGOs came together to provide a unique holistic health education and psychosocial support program to a remote community to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, and to realize the imperatives of Universal Health Coverage and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to provide health and mental health and wellbeing for all. Building on previous collaborations, the DRC-based Hope and Health Vision partnered with the US-based United African Congress, Give Them A Hand Foundation, and the International Association of Applied Psychology (an NGO accredited by ECOSOC at the United Nations) in an intervention to teach healthy behaviors, boost positive emotions, and facilitate community cohesion, within WHO guidelines.

Infographic about psychosocial techniques taught in the community workshop

Hand-washing stations were built and masks produced by local women were distributed free to community members, who participated in workshops conducted on the ground, in the local language, by local health and mental health experts who taught healthy behaviors as well as culturally appropriate and practical psychosocial activities, drawn from a toolbox of gold-standard techniques used in many settings. Originally designed info-graphics in the local language showing the behaviors were distributed, subsequently posted in public places, reaching over 2,000 people.

Initial results from an extensive questionnaire administered before and after the intervention and at a subsequent follow-up, revealed positive impacts in learning, practicing, and sharing, the healthy physical behaviors and psychosocial activities for community participants, and invited community leaders. Data analysis, training video production, and plans for scaling the project are underway. Lessons learned include the value of a holistic approach integrating physical and mental health for communities; the expanded impact of a targeted intervention; and the great promise in implementing UHC and the UN Agenda by civil society partnerships to address health and mental health needs of remote underserved communities, build resilience and hope, and insure “no one is left behind.”



Hear from project leaders Dr Judy Kuriansky (International Association of Applied Psychology), Gordon Tapper (United African Congress), Lucio Kikuni (Hope and Health Vision), Jean-Marie Bazibuhe (Hope and Health Vision), and Dr Francois Imani (Hope and Health Vision) about how the partnership emerged, key lessons from implementing the project, the importance of this holistic intervention, and takeaways for realizing UHC.



In the lead-up to UHC Day 2020 (“Health for All: Protect Everyone”), we are highlighting how CSEM member organizations are contributing to ensure the COVID-19 response protects everyone and keeping momentum going for universal health coverage amid the crisis. See more.

Join us for the virtual UHC Day rally on 12 December 2020 — share your commitment to UHC and call on decision-makers to protect everyone!