Apotex provides pain relief for women in DRC

The first container of 2016 destined for HEAL Africa’s Hospital in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo is being packed at Health Partners International of Canada’s distribution centre.

Along with the usual contents of medical and surgical supplies, HPIC will be providing four skids of essential medicines.

“This shipment, which literally is a delivery of health and hope for the women and children at HEAL Africa, will include medicines for the first time and a major donation from Apotex,” said Helen Crawley, HPIC’s Director of NGO Programs.

“We are going to be drawing down on this stellar donation from Apotex for a few months and we know that it will meet the needs of many of our NGO partners’ health projects,” Helen said.

“HEAL Africa will be receiving two pallets of acetaminophen or enough to provide 21,000 treatments,” said Helen. “Acetaminophen is useful for managing pain after surgery and effective pain control can help speed the recovery process.”

A lot of healing takes place at HEAL Africa but the greatest stories of healing and coming back to life are about the women who have survived sexual assault. HEAL Africa repairs their bodies with surgery, gives them gentle care and provides counselling and practical skills to ease them back into life.

For many decades the DRC has suffered from extreme violence and wars, mass population displacements, widespread rape, and a collapse of public health services. Women and girls have been on the frontlines of conflict since sexual assault is used as a weapon. As a result, thousands of women in the eastern DRC live with stigma and trauma.

Every year, HEAL Africa’s hospital provides care to about 9,000 women survivors.

Here is a story told by Colette, one of the women who arrived at HEAL Africa close to death:

“I was the victim of rape by armed bandits in my house, I did not even have hope to regain my health, I was almost dead, but thanks to the free medical care that I have received at HEAL Africa since June 2015, I have already recovered my health. I am really grateful for HEAL Africa and its partners for this high quality, and free, medical care. Given my situation of poverty, I could not have found the means [to pay] for my treatment. Because the support for rape victims [at HEAL Africa] is free and given the reputation of the hospital in the country, I was motivated to come here. HEAL Africa sent a vehicle to take me more than 50 km between the city of Goma and my village because I could not even stand up. I am very grateful to regain my health.”

HEAL Africa’s hospital has 197 beds and is a tertiary referral hospital. It is one of only three referral hospitals in the DR Congo. It provides general surgery, orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology (including fistula repair), pediatrics, and internal medicine. It also serves as a centre for healthcare and research, and for training doctors and healthcare professionals.

HPIC has been providing containers of medical supplies to the hospital since 2003. For the past 10 years, Unifor’s Social Justice Fund has provided the necessary funding to HPIC for this relief to HEAL Africa.