How many women and children are alive in Congo?
A few years ago while seating in my undergraduate population health elective course class at the University of Waterloo, the semester following my internship in Kinshasa for the World Health Organization (WHO), I began to wonder: How many women actually live in my native country (Democratic Republic of Congo)? From that number, how many are pregnant each year? From that number, how many of them make it full term? For those who don’t make it full term, what are the clinical causes? Fast forward five years later, Stats Congo was born.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG #3 + #5), have continued to advocate for women, adolescents, and children’s health as key economic and societal growth. While national statistics collected by the WHO and the World Bank give a one-stop snapshot of maternal health and mortality rates every year or so, such data do not always paint the full picture for the root causes for why women and newborns account for such an exacerbated mortality rate in the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC), during and/or after pregnancy. More importantly, a strong epidemiology surveillance system in the Democratic Republic of Congo that tells the numeric story of ongoing collected and monitored data at the local hospital level in the country, to advocate for the causes of death of vulnerable women and newborns, remains weak.
Recognizing that big data, AI, block chain, all are data-driven western approaches leveraging from large pools of data to inform best practices, accountability and transparency across disciplines, there is a need to collect and centralize maternal and newborns health Congolese data, to monitor the wellbeing of women. Stats Congo is a novice idea within the space of Sub-Saharan Africa, more specifically within the DRC, since most hospitals continue to use paper-based medical records to register women’s health information.
Stats Congo is the first Congolese national maternal and newborns health centralized database that aims to collect medical records across hospitals, to help inform the rate of health outcome prevalence. Ultimately, we believe that data and analytics are really at the heart of telling a numeric story that can best advocate for the urgency of care that Congolese women and their newborns need. By digitalizing, storing and monitoring clinical outcomes of mothers and their newborns in a resource poor setting like the DRC, we can better understand more efficient ways to allocate resources and physical capacity where the data tells us where is the most need. Africa, DRC to be more specific, has the data but it’s not utilize to its full potential and often left on paper. Data is gold everywhere in the western world, but still neglected in Congo. Stats Congo aims to mitigate this gap by collecting rigorous data that informs necessary information impacting the lives of women and children.
Now at the six months mark of ou startup, we are proud to announce the next steps and vision for Stats Congo:
( a ) Pilot the database across three local hospitals
( b ) Train local Congolese researchers to assess collected data efforts
( c ) Attract donors with a shared vision, to help enforce local clinical capacity