It has now been three and a half years since the beginning of activities of the DREAM program of the Community of Sant’Egidio in Kinshasa, and around 6.000 sick people have been reached and treated. Many dreams have been fulfilled, and many others are still “under construction”.
In agreement with the Ministry of Health of Congo and with the support of the Italian Cooperation, the Program has moved its first steps in 2011, with the aim of taking care of those who, affected by HIV-SIDA, Tuberculosis, Malaria, lived in the east block of the capital of the DRC.
But it was mostly thanks to the GENERALI Foundation that it was possible to build a health structure of excellence, which has united the clinical center and the laboratory, a true “excellence” in the sanitary field. DREAM has thus quickly become a reference center for the treatment of AIDS, which is completely free of charge, not only for the neighborhood, but also for the whole city. For the local population it became an important bond, and in fact in a short time the urbanization of the area has grown because many have built their homes close to the center, motivated also by the weekly distribution of drinking water offered by DREAM.
One of the main objectives of the Program has always been the prevention of the transmission of the virus from the mothers to their children. In Kinshasa many women who live in the most suburban areas don’t have access to the test and, if HIV-positive, to the treatment. To respond to this need, the Program has also become “DREAM_MOBILE”. With support from the GENERALI Group it was able to buy a 4×4 vehicle, capable of even crossing water streams and muddy terrain, and also able to be present every month in the ten maternity wards identified as being in more need of support. It has thus been possible to carry out more than 1.500 tests and many pregnant women, who resulted HIV-positive, have been offered the free treatment and the nutrition supplementation. Their children were born free of AIDS, a great hope for the mothers and for the country.
Next to the health center, throughout these years, the molecular biology laboratory has also become a reference in the country for the cure of AIDS, cooperating with the local and national sanitary structures, and more. It has been a while that the laboratory also provides assistance to Doctors Without Borders, for the processing of the samples for the analysis of the Viral Load, for their patients. The accreditation process of the laboratory for the quality control is active since last year, through the CDC network in Atlanta, and has received large and progressive recognition. An agreement was signed with the CDC/ICAP, locally, for the reception of the samples of the Viral Load, coming from their cure centers. In the last month a new device has been installed for the automatic extraction of the Viral Load, which will allow to increase the activity of the laboratory, both in quality and quantity, and to provide better diagnostic assistance to those who treat the HIV-positive in the country. It’s a dream come true. Many more are born.
In this last year, the program has gained a new innovation with the introduction of the Global Health Technology to meet the needs of that large portion of patients that have become stable or have improved their virological level thanks to therapy, who often present co-morbidity, of a different kind, with cardiological or dermatological impairments, or others. As a matter of fact in Africa a specialist checkup, where available, is always charged. Therefore, in most cases, unobtainable. The introduction of a telemedicine system, through a series of tools, allows the doctors of DREAM to send teleconsultations to a large network of Italian specialists and ask for a “second opinion”. In the same day, after having sent the query and the diagnostic assessments such as an electrocardiogram, it is possible to receive the report and the therapeutic indication.
In the difficult period such as that we are going through due to the economical crisis, one may sometimes think that it is impossible to support international solidarity projects. Looking at the results that have been obtained, at the accomplished dreams, at the wish to continue, with even more enthusiasm, a project aimed at the primary health of a country which is in the 186th place (out of 187) in the list of the Human Development Index, it is absolutely compulsory to thank the partners which have supported us, above all the GENERALI Foundation, true “main sponsor” of the DREAM Program in Kinshasa.