Global Atlanta repost: MedShare Strengthens Ties With Congo-Kinshasa


On April 20, 2011, MedShare was pleased to welcome His Excellency Dr. Victor Makwenge Kaput, Minister of Health, Democratic Republic of Congo and Dr. J. M. Kalonji, Multi-Sector Advisor, Ministry of Heath. They visited MedShare to discuss future container shipments to Congo. Dr. Makwenge detailed their current healthcare system and struggles, and his plans to improve it.

Global Atlanta’s Ann Cantrell covered the visit, and we wanted to share her article with you.

MedShare Strengthens Ties With Congo-Kinshasa

By Ann Cantrell

The Democratic Republic of the Congo that has been ravaged by years of war and suffers from an inadequate health care system will be receiving much needed medical supplies from an Atlanta-based charity, which is strengthening its ties with the CentralAfrican country.

As part of its mission to provide poorer countries with surplus medical supplies from the U.S., MedShare International will be sending three 40-foot containers from Decatur to the impoverished country by the end of May.

Valued somewhere between $150,000 to $200,000, each container will have supplies such as sonographic and X-ray machines, patient monitoring systems and equipment used to administer anesthesia during surgeries.

Since 2004, MedShare already has sent 25 containers to the Congo, but even this sizable contribution has been woefully inadequate to serve the needs of the country’s 71 million inhabitants.

“In the United States, $8,047 was spent on health care per person in 2009. By comparison, the Democratic Republic of the Congo spends $4 per person … Situations like this are why MedShare is here,” David Pass, MedShare’s chief advancement officer, told GlobalAtlanta.

In keeping with its growing relationship with MedShare, Victor Makwenge Kaput, the Congo’s minister of health,  and two other representatives from the ministry, visited the headquarters on April 20 to tour the facility and discuss future partnerships.

Nell Diallo, vice president of corporate and international relations, told GlobalAtlanta they are seeking corporate sponsors and have begun discussions with the Coca Cola Co., Western Union Co., and DHL Express, an international mail service, to assist with shipping and funding.

MedShare depends on corporate and private sponsors to fund its operations of gathering leftover medical supplies and equipment from hospitals in the U.S. and redistributing them in underserved communities. The organization has sent containers to more than 30 countries including Afghanistan, Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Victor Makwenge Kaput, the Democratic Republic of Congo's minister of health, at MedShare's headquarters in Decatur.

During his visit to the MedShare headquarters and disribution facility, Mr. Kaput outlined some of the health problems in the country to Ms. Diallo, Mr. Pass, A.B. Short, CEO and co-founder and other staff,

Each year, 350,000 children in the Congo do not live past five-years and 3,600 women pass away due to pregnancy complications, according to the health minister. “Each second, children die because of no medical care. Each second, women die because of pregnancy complications,” he added.

According to Mr. Kaput, there are also 1 million people living with HIV/AIDS and many suffer from malaria.

After years of war involving half-a-dozen neighboring countries, he said the health care system was decimated. And even though the war officially ended in 2003, the conflict continued within the country particularly in the east, eventually killing more than 5 million people in the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II.

Years of war destroyed the infrastructure of hospitals and clinics and the government only provides the Ministry of Health with $70 million a year for expenses, Mr. Kaput said, adding that $70 million would not even be sufficient to fund the construction of a single hospital.

Due to the lack of government funding, the ministry looks to non-profits, non-governmental organizations and religious groups for funding, equipment and physicians, he said.

More than 80 percent of its funding comes from these organizations, like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, bringing its budget in the Congo from $1 to $4 for each person per year, he said.

Mr. Kaput said he wants to increase this amount to $14 per person each year, repair damaged public hospitals, improve distribution of supplies to rural areas, bring more doctors to the country and re-develop medical research programs.

Working towards these goals, he added that the health ministry is working with South Africa to bring back thousands of Congolese doctors that relocated during the wars and increase their salary from $200 to $1,000 per month.

The health minister and his colleagues concluded their visit to Medshare with a tour of the warehouse and distribution center.

For more information, visit http://www.medshare.org.

Thanks to Global Atlanta for the great coverage! We look forward to working with the Minister to improve healthcare in the DRC.

To view photos of the Minsiter’s visit, click here.

MedShare Ships Container to Afghanistan

Afghanistan

On Wednesday, March 23, 2011, MedShare’s Southeastern Regional Distribution Center in Decatur, Georgia loaded and shipped out a 40 foot container of medical humanitarian aid destined for Afghanistan.  The container, sponsored by EMERGENCY USA – Life Support for Civilian Victims of War and Poverty, is expected to arrive in the port of Karachi, Pakistan in mid-May, clear customs shortly after that and then be transported to its final destination at the EMERGENCY Surgical Centre for War Victims in Afghanistan. The shipment was generously sponsored by EMERGENCY USA, the US based partner organization of EMERGENCY Int’l.

EMERGENCY is an independent NGO that operates hospitals and rehabilitation centers in seven poverty-stricken countries around the world.  EMERGENCY hospitals employ local staff and offer free surgical services to the poor. Injuries caused by bullets, shells, mines, and other weapons of war are some of the most frequent medical problems seen at these hospitals.

They are four medical facilities in Afghanistan which will receive medical supplies from the MedShare container:

  • 95-bed surgical center in Kabul
  • 10-bed surgical center in Lashkar-gah
  • 70-bed general medical center in Anabah
  • 25-bed maternity centre in Anabah

EMERGENCY USA in coordination with the local EMERGENCY procurement officers were able to select over 1,400 individual boxes of medical supplies for the container from MedShare’s online inventory to be shipped on the container.  Included in these are:

  • gauze
  • elastic bandages
  • urinary catheters
  • crutches
  • adult diapers
  • surgical gloves
  • germicidal wipes
  • oxygen masks
  • syringes
  • an ultrasound machine with two probes

In a country with some of the worst health statistics in the world, where about 20% of children die before their 5th birthday and only about 1 in 4 people have access to clean water, these medical supplies will hopefully make an impact in supporting EMERGENCY’s noble efforts.

Many thanks to EMERGENCY USA, Todd Barnett, Emanuele Nannini, and all others who contributed to making this project a reality!

To view photos of the shipment, view our post from yesterday.

Container Shipment Photos: Afghanistan

Warehouse staff loading the container

Warehouse staff preparing boxes for the shipment

The container of boxes bound for Afghanistan

You may know that MedShare ships boxes of medical supplies to developing countries on forty-foot containers. But do you know what that means, exactly? A forty-foot container is the size of a tractor-trailer truck you see everyday on the highway, and we fill the inside of the container FULL of boxes containing medical supplies and equipment. Each container carries an average of 1,000 boxes, and our warehouse staff work hard to pull boxes and pack them securely on the truck.

Above are a few photos from the container shipment that left MedShare’s Southeast Distribution Center today bound for Afghanistan. More shipment details to come…

Hope for Children of Afghanistan

Yesterday, Tuesday May 18, MedShare’s Western Region Distribution Center loaded and shipped out a 40 foot container of medical supplies and equipment destined for AFGHANISTAN.  This container was sponsored and shipped by American Medical Overseas Relief (AMOR), an NGO based out of Fresno, California that is dedicated to improving the health of people in impoverished areas of the  Middle East. 

AMOR knows that 40% of children in Afghanistan die before age 5. They die of preventable and treatable diseases like diarrhea, infections, measles, and chicken pox. Like children around the world, Afghan kids find joy in their families and friends as their lives begin. They don’t realize their life expectancy is half of what it would be if they’d been born in other countries with access to basic medical care.

The one-thousand-plus pieces of medical supplies and equipment on the MedShare container yesterday were hand selected by Dr. Mark Scoffield, CEO of AMOR.  This is MedShare’s second shipment to Afshar Hospital  with AMOR.  The first one shipped from California in June 2009.   The items on this container include patient gowns, suction pumps, crutches, hypoallergenic tape, adhesive dressings, surgical masks, gooseneck examination lights, otoscopes, blood pressure monitors, an ultrasound machine, and much more.  The items are going to be used at Afshar Hospital on the southwest side of Kabul. Afshar Hospital opened its doors in April, 2009. It was built by Afghans to serve the Afghan people. More than 100 Afghan employees deliver medical care to the more than 40,000 impoverished people in the area. The people that Afshar Hospital serves would not otherwise have access to medical care. In the first month, Afshar Hospital treated 800 patients and expects to be treating 3,000 patients each month in the future.