ELAKA [eh-la-ka] comes from the verb in Lingala (a Bantu language), which means to warn, to predict, to advice, to make an appointment and most importantly, to promise. For our founder Bibi Ndala, our organization was created as a promise to contribute to the improved condition of women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
At heart, we are a not-for-profit organization focused on educating and raising awareness on maternal health. And as part of our work, we share and discuss information on interventions and projects, which are effectively reducing the maternal mortality ratio in DRC, through our social media platforms.
Although the rate of maternal mortality is declining globally, the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remains critical.
According to 2017-2018 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), maternal mortality rate in DRC is 846 per 100,000 live births, which is 12 times higher than what is recommended by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This represents a net increase when compared to the 549 deaths per 100,00 live births reported in 2007.
It is estimated that 35 percent of female deaths among those of reproductive age are related to maternal causes, putting 1 out of every 18 women at risk of death. And in 2015, DRC ranked as the 3rd country with the highest number of maternal deaths in the world.
In 2019, the mainly rural province of Kongo-Centrale had the 11th highest number of maternal deaths out of the 26 provinces of the country, including the conflict-affected regions. This is an alarmingly high ranking for a province that does not receive much coverage.
These national and provincial rates are alarming since mothers continue to be the backbones of their community in DRC. The impact of the death of a mother on her surviving children and her family members is devastating. Thus, it is essential to invest and support interventions and projects which ensure the improved condition of mothers.
MISSION & OBJECTIVES
Founded in 2019, ELAKA was established with the mission to promote and advocate for preventive public health measures, as well as to increase access to healthcare for mothers and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), one province at a time.
To achieve its mission the organization has four driven objectives:
1) To increase access to curative and preventive care;
2) To educate and to raise awareness about maternal health and high risk behaviors among the general population;
3) To influence policy and laws regarding maternal and children’s health;
4) To contribute to the improved condition of women and children in DRC.
ELAKA’s road to achieving these objectives includes effective communication with governing bodies, education of the population, and support to existing community assets.
HOW WE PLAN TO ACHIEVE IT
ELAKA will achieve its objectives by partnering with local clinics, hospitals and initiatives to strengthen their capacity.
On a short term, we hope to provide training, implement awareness campaigns and provide medical equipment to clinics and hospitals that demonstrate need.
Through our awareness campaigns and the provision of medical equipment, we seek to create employment opportunities for young individuals who will champion the vision in their respective communities.
PCredit: Gregory Escande
Bibi Ndala, MPH is a City Research Scientist at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Public Health Laboratory. She has 10 years of experience working as a medical technologist at McGill University Health Center. She also serves as a volunteer coordinator for the organizations Friends of the Congo and Congo Love.
Christelle Mbia Ndaye is a Senior Supplier Quality Engineer at Zimmer Biomet Canada (Zimmer CAS). She has 8 years of experience working in the Medical and Pharmaceutical industries as a Technical Operations Specialist, Equipment and System Validation Specialist, and Auditor. She is a proud restaurant owner and aspires to use her wide experience to support women in her native Congo.
Sandrine Luvisa has over 13 years of professional experience in Marketing, Sales and Client Experience in France, Canada and Africa. She enjoys working with great people and learning new things. Helping women and children has always been a part of her.
She feels blessed to be part of this big challenge, knowing that all these women are delivering safely.
Nicole Freire, MPH is an Operations and Implementation Officer at ICAP at Columbia University.
Juliette Hernandez, MPH is a former Public Health Advisor at NYC Health + Hospitals.