Making health insurance responsive to citizens: the management of members' complaints by mutual health organisations in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

DN Bebe, FN Kwilu, A Mavila, EM Mafuta, JM Mangalu, NS Jessani, B Criel

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


In moving towards universal health coverage, a number of low-income and middle-income countries have adopted community-based health insurance (CBHI) as a means to reduce both the inequity in healthcare access and the burden of catastrophic health expenditures linked to user fees. However, organisations managing CBHIs face many challenges, including a poor relationship with their members. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, CBHI schemes are managed by mutual health organisations (MHOs) and are in the process of enhancing their accountability and responsiveness to members’ needs and expectations. This study assessed how MHOs have managed member complaints and their performance in grievance redressal.

Using a sequential mixed-methods approach, we drew insights from four types of sources: review of approximately 50 relevant documents, 25 in-depth interviews (IDIs) with CBHI managers, 9 IDIs with health facility managers, 1063 surveys of MHO members and 15 focus group discussions (FGDs) comprising an additional 153 MHO members. MHO members in this study belonged to three different MHOs (Lisanga, La Borne and Mutuelle de santé des Enseignants de l’Enseignement Primaire, Secondaire et Professionnel) in the capital, Kinshasa.

The document review showed that there were no clear administrative processes for the implementation of the grievance redressal arrangement measures resulting in low member awareness of these measures. These results were confirmed by the IDIs. Of 1044 members surveyed, only 240 (23%) were aware of the complaint measures, and 201 (84%) of these declared they had used the measures at some point in time, 181/201 (90%) users who had used the measures declared being satisfied with the response provided. The FGDs confirmed that most members lack knowledge on the grievance redressal procedures, but those who were aware had made use of them and were often satisfied with the response provided.

MHOs should urgently improve communication with their members on the range of redressal measures put in place to address grievances. Attention should be given to properly monitor existing arrangements, and possibly adapt them with well-documented and communicated standard operating procedures.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere011438
JournalBMJ Global Health
Issue numberS6
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Health economics
  • Health insurance
  • Health policy
  • Public Health


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