Congo Clinic Initiative Enables Churches to Support Clinics

By Stan Friedman

CHICAGO, IL (July 1, 2014) — Covenanters have a fresh way to partner with health clinics operated by the Congo Covenant Church (CEUM) and supported by the Paul Carlson Partnership (PCP) in the Equateur Province.

Meritt Lohr Sawyer, executive director of PCP, announced the launch of the Congo Clinic Initiative at the Covenant’s 129th Annual Meeting last weekend. Through the initiative churches, groups, or families can partner with one of the 108 clinics operated by the CEUM.

The launch of the initiative coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Paul Carlson, who was martyred in Congo in 1964.

Lohr Sawyer told the gathering that one out of five children die before the age of five in the Congo. Most of those deaths are preventable with access to care. Improving the clinics and strengthening the coordinated system can reduce the number of deaths dramatically, she said.

Paul Carlson Partnership will pair participants with a clinic in Congo. The cost for supporting the clinic will be $10,000 per year for five years. Five thousand dollars will pay for solar panels in the first year to provide electricity. Each of the following years will focus on a different project in developing the clinics. The remaining $5,000 each year will help pay for medicines, salaries, and other operational costs.

“This is not about putting up a shiny new building,” Lohr Sawyer says. “It’s about preventative care. It’s setting up a public health system.”

Medical care is inaccessible for the 1.6 million people living in the province, Lohr Sawyer says. She adds that getting to a clinic generally means walking at least 10 miles.

The clinics are barely rudimentary, without access to electricity or clean water. Just installing solar panels will save numerous lives, Lohr Sawyer says.

The installation of solar panels at the hospital in Karawa already has enabled doctors to perform operations that would not otherwise be possible, as well as store medicines that otherwise would be near impossible to provide.

Still more are needed for that site as well as the other clinics, Lohr Sawyer said.

Sponsors will receive a photo and quarterly updates about Congo, the culture, and developments in providing medical care.

The clinics also will become more involved in providing community health education.

A sample clinic based upon those that exist in Congo was set up at the Annual Meeting. Attendees were able to “attend” the clinic and have their blood pressure checked.

Written plans that churches can follow to set up clinics in their buildings will be available soon.

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