It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world. With a population of over 75 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the nineteenth most populous nation in the world, the fourth most populous nation in Africa, as well as the most populous Francophone country. A vast country with immense economic resources, it has been at the center of what some observers call “Africa’s world war”. This has left it in the grip of a humanitarian crisis. The five-year conflict pitted government forces, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, against rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda.


    Kenya is an equatorial nation on the coast of East Africa. With a population of more than 44 million, and despite the steady growth of the economy, more than half of Kenya’s people live below the international poverty line of $1 per day. Tropical diseases, especially malaria and tuberculosis, have long been a public health problem in Kenya. HIV/AIDS, as in many other countries in the region, is a serious problem, contributing to poverty and a growing demand for healthcare – hospitals, clinics and healthcare workers.


    Malawi is located in south, central Africa. It is one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 170th out of 186 countries on the Human Development Index. As in most impoverished countries, the healthcare needs of women and children often go untreated resulting in unnecessary mortality rates. According to UNICEF, the mortality rate in Malawi for children under the age of 5 is 83:1000. For infants under the age of 1 this increases to 131:1000 and, for women during childbirth, the mortality rate is 510:100,000 as compared to 24:100,000 in the United States.


    Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its extreme poverty is the result of many factors over its tumultuous history. Haiti is the most dangerous place for a woman to give birth in the western hemisphere; this small country has the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the region. A Haitian woman has a lifetime risk of 1:47 of dying in childbirth (as compared to 1:8,000 for women in highly developed nations). By far, the leading cause of these deaths is because a skilled medical professional was not available.