Africa
Mutual insurance
School health

The Tepco santé health mutual: “acting for the health and well-being of children in schools in the Congo””

Adèle Bertier-Vernet
August 11, 2020

According to the UNICEF report on the situation of children in the Congo, 9 out of 10 children in the country do complete primary education, but health education and the provision of basic health care in schools is not accessible to the vast majority of them. 

The health mutual TEPCO SANTE has decided to address this issue and, through its actions, hopes to contribute to making schools a safe and healthy environment to help guarantee quality learning for young Congolese people. 

According to the UNICEF report on the situation of children in the Congo, 9 out of 10 children in the country do complete primary education, but health education and the provision of basic health care in schools is not accessible to the vast majority of them. 

The health mutual TEPCO SANTE has decided to address this issue and, through its actions, hopes to contribute to making schools a safe and healthy environment to help guarantee quality learning for young Congolese people. 

As a central space in children’s lives, the school must also be a place where they can access health care. This is why TEPCO Santé was created two years ago in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After noticing that schools in the country have no qualified health personnel to care for pupils during school hours, co-founder Leila Samou brought together several members of the medical profession to set up the country’s first school health mutual. 

TEPCO Santé therefore operates inside schools to set up nurse’s offices with the appropriate medical equipment. With a field staff composed of 6 nurses, 3 training consultants and 1 medical consultant, its mission is threefold: 

-          Coverage of basic health care: creation of a medical file for the student and annual health monitoring by the medical advisor. On-site treatment of illnesses, injuries and minor accidents that may occur at school; with, if necessary, referral to health centres. 

-          Deworming: quarterly deworming of children against intestinal worms and malaria tests, with curative treatment if necessary. 

-          Preventative health education: workshops in which health professionals raise children’s awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, tell them about different types of disease and remove the stigma associated with certain illnesses, e.g. sickle cell disease or albinism. 

This year, the mutual insurance company has taken care of and raised awareness among nearly 3,000 pupils and does not intend to stop there. Although for the moment it only intervenes in private educational establishments, it aims to extend its services to public school children who, according to Leila Samou, “are those most in need of TEPCO SANTE’s services”. 

In Congo, access to health care, even basic care, is a problem for the vast majority of the population. In the absence of health mutual insurance companies, only those with the means can take out private health insurance. This is why TEPCO Santé would like to develop a partnership with the country’s Ministry of Public Education in order to ensure general health coverage for pupils in all school environments and thus guarantee access to its health services for the greatest number of children. 

This is not an easy task, since the health mutual has quite a heavy burden of administrative bureaucracy. In addition to this, the young health mutual faces other challenges in carrying out its work, including a lack of equipment and medicines for its nurse’s offices and insufficient funds due to operating solely on the basis of its members’ subscription fees. 

As a new member of the Education & Solidarity Network, TEPCO Santé wishes to widen the scope of its action through the exchange of good practices between organisations and feedback from other members of the ESN. An advocate of health care in school settings, it is also keen to contribute to the Network’s missions and is available to collaborate on its various current and future projects. 

Find out more about TEPCO Santé health mutual on its Facebook page.

 

 

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