Fatuma is a 36-year-old mother of 5 living in the Melkadida refugee camp in Ethiopia. Due to increasing violence in the region, Fatuma fled Somalia with her family in 2011 enduring a long, seven-day journey before arriving at the camp. In Somalia, Fatuma worked as a trader, in the camp she spends her time taking care of her children.
Fatuma has greatly benefited from International Medical Corps sanitation and hygiene programs in the camp. She attributes her family’s current healthy status to the valuable lessons she learned and is now implementing. She learned that using a washing basin separate from the potties her two children now use has greatly reduced her family’s risk of communicable disease. International Medical Corps also taught Fatuma about personal hygiene, safe water handling and storage, environmental cleanliness, solid and liquid waste management and diarrheal prevention.
Fatuma says International Medical Corps helped ‘save her family’ and is thankful for the critical supplies our staff was able to provide so her family can practice healthy hygiene and sanitation. These items include jerry cans, a washing basin, a three-liter cleansing container, potties, and laundry and bathing soap. Fatuma says, “I have no worry now for such things that I can’t afford to buy. Without the support of International Medical Corps, it will be challenging for us even to buy soap and keep our children and the family healthy.”
International Medical Corps has been delivering water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs in Melkadida for the past two years. Since then, there has been a significant reduction in WASH-related diseases among the refugee community. “International Medical Corps has not stopped providing us knowledge and has also helped us change our knowledge into practices,” says Fatuma. “It was worthwhile and the basis for keeping my family healthy.” Thanks to the generous support of Global Giving and other donors International Medical Corps is able to deliver lifesaving WASH programs such as these to underserved populations around the world.
In a region as heavily impacted by severe drought that can result in wide scale crop failures and food insecurity as East Africa, preventing malnutrition remains a top priority. Diseases that exacerbate existing malnutrition, such as diarrheal diseases, are therefore a major concern. According to the World Health Organization, children who are malnourished or have impaired immunity are among those most at risk of life-threatening diarrhea. A significant proportion of diarrheal disease can be prevented through safe drinking-water and good sanitation and hygiene practices - making Global Handwashing Day a critically important event in Ethiopia, a country working to prevent malnutrition and ensure healthy futures for children and families.
International Medical Corps’ teams in Ethiopia have been working with local communities and refugees for years, encouraging healthy sanitation behaviors. Our International Medical Corps team regularly works with schools and children, recently working in the Ade Shento primary school to improve sanitation, hygiene and handwashing among its 650 students. With a new accessible latrine and handwashing facility, all the children at Ade Shento are now able to wash their hands easily and stay healthy.
Working with the next generation has been especially successful when children become agents for change themselves, taking messages back into their homes and teaching the whole family their newly acquired skills. In the Bokolmanyo refugee camp, school children are taking the power into their own hands and helping spread messages of handwashing to more than 42,000 members of their own community.
Building on this outreach, our team has marked Global Handwashing Day by spreading the word about the importance of washing your hands, with events in refugee camps and in communities around Ethiopia. In the Kobe, Mekadida and Bokolmayo refugee camps, events included singing, dancing, acting and games to spread the message of handwashing with soap. Outside of camps, in the rural Wolayita, East Hararghe and West Arsi communities, our team conducted sessions in local schools, appeals on local radio and a march in support of the day.
The generous support of Global Giving and other donors makes a huge difference to communities we serve, including helping us to continue our efforts to promote sanitation and hygiene in areas that they are so critically needed.
International Medical Corps will mark its fifth anniversary in Haiti in January of 2015. For much of that time, our efforts were oriented toward the provision of Health care for those suffering from the January 2010 earthquake and then, soon after in October of 2010, for those who became victims of the Cholera epidemic.
Most recently, International Medical Corps has focused on providing services to families in the North and Northeast regions due to the vulnerability of the communities there and the relatively few available health care services. In the last six months, International Medical Corps has treated 213 victims of Cholera, decontaminated 293 latrines, decontaminated 184 homes, and provided awareness messages and water purification tablets to over 351,988 vulnerable citizens. International Medical Corps has carried out these activities through its mobile clinic teams, which are active 24/7 as Cholera outbreaks demand throughout the North and Northeast regions. Our efforts and those of our partners have contributed to an overall reduction in fatalities due to Cholera of 70% over the last year.
To further augment our health care services and provide urgently-needed care to communities in Haiti, International Medical Corps partnered with the California-based nonprofit 'Cure Cervical Cancer' in September and were able to screen 158 women for cervical cancer and treat 27 positive cases with cryotherapy, in addition to training more than a dozen doctors and nurses on the intervention. With funds from Global Giving supporters and other donors, International Medical Corps aims to repeat this training and screening in Haiti health clinics at least four times per year.