International Medical Corps

International Medical Corps is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through healthcare training, disaster relief, and long-term development programs.
Dec 4, 2013

How BCP Training is Helping Prepare Japanese NGOs for the Next Disaster

Hiroyuki Kakuho (center)  from Japan Platform
Hiroyuki Kakuho (center) from Japan Platform

After Japanese Scientists at Tokyo University and Global Seismologists predicted a 70% chance of a 7+ Richter-scale earthquake hitting Japan by 2016, the majority of Japanese non-government organizations realized that ensuring their organizations integrity when they are hit by a disaster is critical to being able to deliver relief to local populations. In response to this realization, International Medical Corps began working with seasoned business continuity planning (BCP) experts from two premier Japanese risk management corporations (Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Co., Ltd.), and have successfully completed a three-part workshop series that taught local humanitarian aid organizations the fundamentals of business continuity planning.

Through a combination of lectures and hands-on practical exercises that took participating non-government organizations (NGOs) through a simulated disaster; potential risks were identified (e.g., closed roads, power outages, etc.); the specific tasks staff members must complete to ensure that they are functional and able to fulfill their mandate after the disaster were established; people were assigned responsible for each task; and special strategies that must be used as part of the planning process were decided upon.

Participants then developed a list of action items, including timeframes, to ensure the implementation of their plan was realistic and carried out in a timely manner. At the end of the series, each NGO was able to create a simple, practical BCP plan that fits its organizational needs. A total of 25 individuals from 17 organizations completed this course. For those organizations requesting additional assistance, BCP experts also provided feedback to the organization’s BCP draft and offered suggestions/advice for improvement.

The response from the participants was overwhelmingly positive. Here are a few examples of the feedback we received:

Hiroyuki Kakuho, Administrative Manager for Japan Platform (JPF):

“JPF is known as an emergency response organization. It is vital that we are able to function during an emergency. Clearly identifying what we need to do to be ready in a time of crisis and making appropriate preparations has always been a core issue, but we had been unable to really work on any concrete plans with everyone being busy with their own day-to-day work. We also didn’t know where to begin to better prepare ourselves. This BCP workshop was very important in teaching our staff specific techniques on how to think through and create a BCP plan that fits our organization’s needs. Since we were getting trained with other NGOs, we also benefited from sharing our concerns, ideas and experiences with each other, which allowed us to gain hints as to how to create a more realistic plan of action.”

“We found the BCP creation process outlined by the experts very thorough and with a logical flow. We were surprised at how the workshops spent a lot of time on practical exercises. It was also great that the assignments we received between workshops helped focus our discussions and prepared us for the next lessons. We also appreciated how there was ample time between the three workshops so that we had some time to go back to our organization and think through various issues. We were able to share the BCP learning process with our other colleagues and discuss what should go into our BCP plan.”

“We are currently updating our simple BCP based on what we learned at this workshop series. We are looking forward to more of the same kind of practical workshops from International Medical Corps that will build our capacity and help us to more effectively do our work.”

Japan Platform (JPF) is an international emergency humanitarian aid organization made up of 44 member NGOs, the majority of which do emergency humanitarian aid throughout the world. JPF conducts aid through a tripartite cooperation system, where NGOs, business community, and government of Japan work in close cooperation, based on equal partnership. 

 

Masayuki Okada, Administrative Manager for Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) Japan:

“AAR Japan has been concerned about how we would respond if a natural disaster should strike our own headquarters in the greater Tokyo area, a likelihood we know all too well could happen in the future.  When we heard about this opportunity to learn about BCP directly from BCP experts, we thought this would be a great chance to brush up on our organization’s BCP approach.”

“Two staff members from AAR Japan including myself participated in these workshops. We learned many specific techniques such as how to calculate the number of staff that would likely be able to come to the office if transportation routes were closed and how to identify priority tasks for our operations during an emergency as opposed to normal times. We also realized that we faced serious issues if the building in which our office is located becomes inaccessible, such as losing the ability to access any of the data we have stored on our server or any workspace our staff would need to carry out their tasks even if they could make it to the office. Thanks to these lessons, we are now creating a backup plan for saving our data and are considering moving our office to a newer building with more advanced earthquake resistance.”

“This workshop even included a review of AAR Japan’s BCP plan by the experts, something we would have had great difficulty getting on our own. Japanese NGOs in general have a great budget limitation, and so getting expert advice is extremely difficult.”

“Based on what we learned, AAR Japan has already started to improve upon a number of measures we already had in place, such as our procedures to check on the safety of our staff and measures to better utilize our satellite phones to ensure communication in case both landlines and mobile phone lines crash during an emergency. We plan on reviewing our BC plan on a regular basis within our organization and make sure that our staff are aware of what is in the BC plan. We hope to run simulations with staff to test how the BCP plan would work. We ask for International Medical Corps and the BCP experts to continue to support our efforts to prepare ourselves for emergencies.”

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) is a NGO focusing on emergency assistance, assistance to persons with disabilities, and Mine/UXO action. AAR Japan initiated Tohoku aid and relief activities one day after the Great East Japan Earthquake and they have been engaged in emergency and recovery assistance in the affected areas ever since.


Kazutaka Ueda, Senior Program Manager for SEEDS Asia:

“SEEDS Asia was only created in 2006 and so is still a young NGO. Until 3 years ago, we only had 5 staff members. During these last years we’ve expanded our projects and now have 3 branch offices. It was perfect timing for us when we learned about International Medical Corps’ BCP training, because within our organization we were recently discussing the need to have a continuity plan in the case of an emergency like a natural disaster. We jumped at the chance to participate and traveled the over 500km from Kobe to Tokyo for the workshops.”

“What drew us to this workshop was the fact that it wasn’t just a lecture but a workshop that would actually result in creating a BCP. Like most small NGOs in Japan, we are extremely limited in human and financial resources, and we hadn’t had the time to spend making a BC plan on our own. If we hadn’t participated in a workshop like this that let us put words on paper (i.e., a written BCP), we would probably have never been able to create our own BCP.  In addition, it was important that we shared the BCP process with our staff so we are all on the same page about how we should respond in case of an emergency.”

“It was wonderful to be able to ask questions and receive advice from BCP experts specific to our organization’s needs. Being able to have this one-on-one advice increased the practicality of our BC plan and helped us think more deeply about what we can do to be operationally functioning when disaster strikes at our own doorstep.”

SEEDS Asia has been conducting activities in Asia Pacific region related to development, environmental management and community-based Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). In Kesennuma City, SEEDS Asia has been assisting community building at temporary housing sites, organizing meetings for leaders of temporary housing sites, conducting DRR education/Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). 



Hiroyuki Okada (far right) from AAR
Hiroyuki Okada (far right) from AAR
Dec 4, 2013

Delivering Relief to the Philippines by Any Means Possible

Preparing to Deliver Relief to Guiuan
Preparing to Deliver Relief to Guiuan

Typhoon Haiyan, equivalent to a category 5 hurricane, has affected an estimated 9.9 million people in the Philippines. The storm, which made landfall on November 8, caused widespread devastation, displacing 3.4 million people and destroying over 1 million houses, according to the United Nations. This rare and very powerful storm has severely disrupted the delivery of critical health services, and access to safe water continues to be a serious problem for the affected regions.

Since access to affected areas has improved with the clearing of roads and the re-opening of most airports, relief efforts from humanitarian organizations and the Government of the Philippines have scaled up substantially. While humanitarian assistance is getting through to the hard hit areas urban areas with high populations, efforts must continue to extend to the rural and remote villages, many of which have not received any assistance to-date.

Damaged Health Care Infrastructure: Super Typhoon Haiyan caused widespread destruction and damage to permanent health facilities which has slowed the recovery efforts and has caused shortages of essential medicines and medical supplies. The Government of the Philippines has announced plans for rebuilding or rehabilitating destroyed or damaged health facilities and appealed to the private sector and NGOs to offer resources and expertise to address gaps in infrastructure, equipment, and staffing. However, in the immediate term, services are being provided through a mixture of mobile medical clinics and temporary health facilities. As such, there is a tremendous need for medicines and medical supplies to be delivered to the affected areas in order to provide adequate medical care to the population. The need for these daily supplies will only continue to grow as facilities are brought back online or made functional, because supplies lost in the storm will need to be replaced in order to regain the ability to operate as they did before the storm.

International Medical Corps response: International Medical Corps is on the ground in the Philippines providing medical services through ten mobile medical units in some of the hardest-hit areas following Typhoon Haiyan. International Medical Corps is also conducting water, sanitation and hygiene; medical; and mental health assessments in affected communities, and has begun nutrition screening and treatment referral for children.

By working through mobile medical units, International Medical Corps has been able to provide critical health services on remote islands where families struggle to access medical care and basic resources.

With the support of its partners, International Medical Corps has sent hundreds of hygiene kits, scrubs, antibiotics, primary health medicines and 5 Interagency Emergency Health Kits that can each support 10,000 people for approximately three months. These supplies are being distributed through its mobile medical units to vulnerable communities in isolated and heavily impacted areas.  The top conditions being treated are open wounds and bruises (from reconstruction efforts), acute respiratory infection, hypertension, fever and skin diseases. Left untreated, these conditions can quickly become life-threatening among vulnerable populations such as infants and the elderly.

The demand for critical medicines paired with the difficult logistical situation has made it difficult and costly to supply medical items to where they are desperately needed, which is making the situation more urgent. International Medical Corps’ efforts to obtain and distribute medicines and supplies will help to maintain health of the most vulnerable while the health care infrastructure is restored in the hardest hit areas of the Philippines. As little as $15,000 can send an emergency health kit that will provide medicine and supplies for a community of 10,000 people for three months. Kits like these are vital for our Emergency Response Unit - they often depend on shipments like these to provide care for communities affected by disaster.

Unloading Relief Items in Guiuan
Unloading Relief Items in Guiuan
Delivering Relief in Hernani by Helicopter
Delivering Relief in Hernani by Helicopter
Unpacking Medical Supplies
Unpacking Medical Supplies
Dec 4, 2013

Proven Clean Water Solutions for Our Emergency Response in the Philippines

Background: Typhoon Haiyan, equivalent to a category 5 hurricane, has affected an estimated 9.9 million people in the Philippines. The storm, which made landfall on November 8, caused widespread devastation, displacing 3.4 million people and destroying over 1 million houses, according to the United Nations. This rare and very powerful storm has severely disrupted the delivery of critical health services, and access to safe water continues to be a serious problem for the affected regions.

Since access to affected areas has improved with the clearing of roads and the re-opening of most airports, relief efforts from humanitarian organizations and the Government of the Philippines have scaled up substantially. While humanitarian assistance is getting through to the hard hit areas urban areas with high populations, efforts must continue to extend to the rural and remote villages, many of which have not received any assistance to-date.

Urgent Need for Intervention: Despite large-scale efforts to rehabilitate water systems in the affected areas, many rural and remote regions still lack clean sources of water today. People may have to walk up to 10 miles to access clean water, or rely on unsafe water sources including surface water or open wells. Getting water to people –and storing it – is also a challenge. Although the roads have opened up, bringing water via trucks to large areas is limited due to a shortage of trucks and fuel. Additionally, limited water storage capacity is making it difficult for families to meet their daily water needs. Making matters worse, the devastation of basic household infrastructure – toilets and latrines – and the disruption of trash and waste removal in affected communities has put their populations at-risk for outbreaks of preventable water-borne diseases.

International Medical Corps Emergency Response: International Medical Corps is on the ground in the Philippines providing medical services through ten mobile medical units in some of the hardest-hit areas following Typhoon Haiyan. International Medical Corps is also conducting water, sanitation and hygiene; medical; and mental health assessments in affected communities, and has begun nutrition screening and treatment referral for children.

By working through mobile medical units, International Medical Corps has been able to provide critical health services on remote islands where families struggle to access medical care and basic resources

International Medical Corps, along with local health authorities, has begun to focus on the public health threat of epidemics in communities where access to safe water is unsteady or not possible. In conjunction with the delivery of medical services in affected areas, International Medical Corps is identifying unmet water, sanitation, and hygiene needs in these areas. International Medical Corps is focusing on providing water, sanitation, and hygiene support to temporary health structures; distributing hygiene and water kits; and improving the availability of water through repairs to distribution systems and treatment of water sources.

A Proven Solution: As part of its partnership with DayOne Response to deliver clean water during emergencies, International Medical Corps is working to transport and distribute approximately 200 of DayOne Response’s Waterbags and P&G Purifier of Water to families affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The Waterbag when combined with P&G’s Purifier of Water can provide clean, drinkable water for individuals and communities directly affected by the disaster. International Medical Corps is transporting them to its bases of operation in the Philippines for further distribution through its mobile or stationary health services in areas with limited access to clean water, as needed. The Waterbags were piloted previously during International Medical Corps’ response to the Haiti Earthquake in 2011, and proved to be a potent solution to water shortages that arise during the recovery period after a widespread disaster. Tricia Compas-Markman, DayOne Response’s CEO, had this to say about deploying the life-saving Waterbags to the Philippines:

“The collaboration between DayOne Response, Procter and Gamble’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, and International Medical Corps, enables our teams to reach families affected by the typhoon with innovative solutions for clean drinking water.  This is taking form by providing them direct access to clean drinking water through the DayOne Waterbag™ and P&G Purifier of Water™.  The robust water purification system supports International Medical Corps comprehensive WASH approach in both households and health clinics, empowering communities to directly to treat their own water.  This is an exciting effort to be involved with!”

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