Alleviating ranger danger
National Parc de Lomami, home to some of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s greatest biodiversity, is the country’s newest national park, having been officially designated status in 2016. Animals within the park face a severe poaching threat despite efforts to increase security and provide educational and employment systems to discourage it. Poaching is often run by criminal gangs with records of rape, murder, pillaging, and arson. Rangers face conflict daily as they work to sustain park integrity and protect animal populations.
Lomami has no pre-hospital emergency healthcare system or infrastructure at this time. The healthcare infrastructure in all of DRC has almost completely collapsed due to constant conflict, continued security problems, and lack of healthcare investment. Rangers suffer medical problems and traumatic injuries with high illness and mortality rates.
Incidental reports suggest that many of the problems and injuries could have been at least partly been mitigated in the field, including unmanaged hemorrhage, lack of attention to potential spinal injuries, and poor wound management. Lack of healthcare infrastructure also holds the local population in poverty and back from developing viable economies. At this time, there are no known educational efforts towards improving emergency and trauma care with rangers, nursing staff, local physicians, or community members in the nearby region.
We have designed a unique course for this conflict ridden low-resource setting with the goal of improving medical care, alleviating suffering, and improving health outcomes.
Our project consisted of 5 phases:
- A comprehensive survey of ranger injuries, medical problems and preventable death
- A situational survey of healthcare facilities in the local district and province to ascertain location in respect to the park and healthcare provider’s level of training, surgical capability, and supply situation
- The development of a comprehensive plan for park administration to properly triage to appropriate facilities when medical conditions or injuries require
- The actual ranger medic course
- A follow up review to continuously follow cases and outcomes providing feedback for future courses
InnovationsCZ intends to work in conjunction with Lomami’s Park and Medical Director, HEAL Africa, and Care Under Fire and in partnership with local health clinics and hospitals. We intend to create a comprehensive ranger medic program to:
- train a cohort of ranger medics in the course we have designed,
- create a continuing educational system which will be embedded in the park and local communities to offer education with infrastructure to keep the program sustainable, and
- work to create the first 2 objectives into a model system which we can then offer to other communities.