Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Health problems have been a long-standing issue limiting development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo).
Medical facilities are severely limited, and medical materials are in short supply. An adequate supply of prescription or over-the-counter drugs in local stores or pharmacies is also generally not available. Payment for any medical services is expected in cash in the DR Congo, in advance of treatment.
The 2014 CIA estimated average life expectancy in the DR Congo was 56.54 years.
HIV/Aids is the most serious health problem in the DR Congo due to the incurable nature of the disease. By the end of 2003, UNAIDS estimated that 1.1 million people were living with HIV/AIDS, for an overall adult HIV prevalence of 4.2%. Life expectancy in the DR Congo dropped 9% in the 1990s as a result of HIV/AIDS.
According to UNAIDS, several factors fuel the spread of HIV in the DR Congo, including the movement of large numbers of refugees and soldiers, scarcity and high cost of safe blood transfusions in rural areas, a lack of counseling, few HIV testing sites, high levels of untreated sexually transmitted infections among sex workers and their clients, and low availability of condoms outside Kinshasa and one or two provincial capitals.
With an eventual end of hostilities and a government in transition, population movements associated with increased stability and economic revitalization will exacerbate the spread of HIV, which is now localized in areas most directly affected by the presence of troops and war-displaced populations. Consecutive wars have made it nearly impossible to conduct effective and sustainable HIV/AIDS prevention activities.
People are at risk of onchocerciasis (River blindness) in parts of the DR Congo.
Maternal and child healthcare
The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Democratic Republic of the Congo is 670. This is compared with 533.6 in 2008 and 550 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 199 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 26. In Democratic Republic of the Congo the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is 2 and the lifetime risk of death for pregnant women 1 in 24.