Congo children
The Big Heart Foundation funding will help treat more than 4,000 children and 2,600 women, annually, in Congo. Image Credit:

Dubai: Sharjah-based humanitarian charity, the Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) has allocated US $1million to build a new health care facility for women and children in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The new facility will help treat more than 4,000 children and 2,600 women, annually, across four of the most deprived health zones of the Kasai Oriental province in Congo.

TBHF has partnered with Save the Children, to fund their project titled ‘Transforming the lives of children in DRC’, designed to cater to the urgent healthcare needs of children and their families exposed to malnourishment and increased incidence of violence and insecurity.

Staff training

Under the directives of Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of TBHF and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at UNHCR, the project will be initiated in January 2020, and will see the construction of a fully-equipped health centre in Kasai Oriental to meet the previously unmet needs of the local population. The health facility’s staff will be trained on building and equipment upkeep, and the project will also involve the provision of an initial stock of essential medication to cover treatment for a three-month period.

In addition, TBHF also seeks to build the capacity of staff in around 60 centres across four health zones in Kasai Oriental to improve quality of care and management, and thereby ensure effective end-to-end delivery of care.

Humanitarian concern

Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said: “This humane effort is in line with TBHF’s commitment to help children and their families in vulnerable situations and is aligned to the vision of Sheikha Jawaher to address growing humanitarian concerns around the world”.

“With one in five children in the DRC dying of preventable diseases before their fifth birthday, TBHF has decided to do its part in changing this grim reality by enhancing children’s and women’s accessibility to quality health care,” the Al Hammadi further added.

Supporting projects

About extending the project’s impact on an even wider community by building the technical capacities of staff in 60 centres across the province, the TBHF Director noted, “The overarching aims of the project are also aligned with TBHF’s expanding goals of offering longer-term intervention and support that can help our beneficiaries to become active change-makers in their communities, contributing the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, where Good Health And Well-Being are goal #3. This is why we have been increasing our role in supporting projects that are focused on building schools, offering quality healthcare, education and psychosocial support, skills training, crisis management and more”, she added.

Low health indicators

One of the largest African countries in terms of land area and population, DRC suffers from low health indicators, especially in Kasai Oriental. According to Save the Children, Congo is one of the worst countries in the world for children, with high rates of poverty, and little or no access to healthcare or education. Other factors that pose a serious threat to their lives are increasing violence and epidemic outbreaks, like the Ebola crisis of 2018, with gripped 3,200 lives. The death toll has been recorded as 2,207 by the DRC’s Ministry of Health via the WHO.

TBHF was officially established in 2015 following a range of humanitarian initiatives and campaigns launched since 2008 by Sheikha Jawaher, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of TBHF. In 2018, the organization raised US$ 15.8 million, utilised by TBHF’s healthcare, education and emergency aid funds to support long-term and sustainable humanitarian projects in more than 20 nations worldwide facing heightened crises.