Serving low-resource hospitals in the DRC

This year, we were contacted by a doctor from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to set up a Friends of David Nott Foundation (FDNF) society – our very first FDNF in Africa. In a bid to support the development of African doctors in hospitals with poor resources, we provided funding for teaching tools used to upskill medical professionals in deep DRC territory.

In June 2023, a WHO report found that the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the DRC has more than doubled to 6.3 million, since the end of 2022. The crisis has emerged as decades of conflict and food insecurity soars in the DRC, made worse by extreme flooding and disease outbreaks throughout the Ituri and North Kivu Provinces.

Chris Kitumaini, a medical doctor and President of our FDNF in the DRC, arranged a training course for doctors at the Murhesa Medical Center, a modest hospital with very limited resources, medical equipment and staff. He shared:

“We travelled to Bukavu, in the South-Kivu Province in the DRC, and then went onto Kabare’s deep territory to get to the Murhesa Medical Center. We picked this location to train in because it is a hospital with very low income. Resources are so limited there.”

In the operating rooms, there is nothing. Women are giving birth on wooden tables. The doctors there are working with the smallest amount of materials, no beds, no anaesthesia machines. Nothing but the doctors and medical assistants.

Basic medical skills

The surgical teaching team, some of whom had travelled from Bordeaux, taught a range of basic medical and surgical skills to a group of 20 doctors from different territories. Some had travelled from small villages to get to the training in Murhesa Medical Center.

Four courses were delivered during two intensive days of training, using surgical toolkits, mannikins and anaesthesia tools funded by us. Dr Raïssa Kizungu, a cardiologist from Bordeaux, led the management of cardiovascular pathologies in the context of war and environments with limited resources. The team used mannikins to teach the group cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and essential tools for resuscitation to preserve life in resource-limited settings. Dr Elie Bugashane, a general surgeon, led the management of battlefield wounds and suture techniques in resource-limited environments. Finally, Dr Charles Kachungunu led the management of head trauma and how to deliver excellent nursing care.

During other practical sessions, the surgeons learned how to do a craniotomy to stop serious bleeding, as well as suture techniques to manage wounds in war and low-resource contexts.

A thirst to learn

“Our first workshop, funded by the David Nott Foundation, was a success. We chose doctors and medical professionals who really needed training. It was a big moment for us.

We now want to focus on training in other places that need us the most – villages deep in the Congo forest. Learning simple procedures, like how to secure broken limbs, could really help people that cannot move to other hospital easily.”

We remain committed to supporting medical professionals living and working in countries impacted by war and disaster.

More on our training