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 5, 2016

"Please Be Kind to Us": Roumatsh's Story

Roumatsh receives prenatal care
Roumatsh receives prenatal care

Roumatsh was already pregnant with her fourth child when she and her husband boarded a small dinghy bound for Greece. Several months earlier, they had made the difficult decision to leave their home in war-torn home Syria for the chance to give their children a “normal life” in Europe. They knew that crossing the Mediterranean Sea would be dangerous, especially for an expectant mother. Roumatsh said, “I was afraid something would happen to my pregnancy.” By the time they arrived in Greece, most European countries had closed their borders, leaving the family stranded in limbo in Skaramagas Camp.

Roumatsh’s story is heartbreaking, but not unique. Since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, more than 4.8 million Syrians have fled their homes to seek refuge in neighboring countries. In 2016 alone, some 349,000 refugees and migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other nations have reached Europe by sea, more than 171,000 of whom landed in Greece. The capacity to accommodate refugees arriving on the Greek islands was quickly exceeded, and many refugees are now housed in informal camps and settlements on the mainland, or moving outside of camps into urban spaces. “I thought it would be better when we arrived in Europe,” Roumatsh said, “Now we are stuck.” There is often limited access to primary health care, and many pregnant women, like Roumatsh, find it difficult to access prenatal or obstetric care to ensure safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Since fall 2015, our teams have operated in Greece, first on the islands, then the mainland, remaining flexible to meet the growing needs of refugees desperately travelling to Europe. With the support of GlobalGiving and other donors, International Medical Corps has provided emergency services, like health care and water, sanitation and hygiene support, to meet the growing needs of men, women, and children seeking care.

With women and children under four years making up some 56% of refugee and arrivals in Greece, International Medical Corps began scaling reproductive health, including obstetric/gynecological services. Over a span of three months, we have provided 246 women with 460 prenatal, postnatal and gynecological consultations in camps across Greece.

Roumatsh received prenatal care services from our clinic in Skaramagas Camp the first day it opened. When asked what she wished the world would understand about her situation, she replied: ‘I want people to know we are tired. Please be kind to us.”

We would like to thank the GlobalGiving community for your support of our work in Greece, helping mothers like Roumatsh have safe and healthy pregnancies.

A health worker checks Roumatsh
A health worker checks Roumatsh's blood pressure
Skaramagas Camp with pre-fab housing containers
Skaramagas Camp with pre-fab housing containers
Dec 5, 2016

Fighting Cholera in South Sudan

Cholera prevention training
Cholera prevention training

Every year, South Sudan’s rainy season intensifies what is already a dire humanitarian crisis. Stretching from May to October, the rains turn entire areas into swamps, making road access to many communities impossible. They also create fertile ground for disease—including cholera. This year was no different. As of October 20, there have been 2,539 reported cholera cases in South Sudan, with 39 resulting in death. Cholera is a bacterial infection caused by ingesting contaminated food or water. The infection causes acute diarrhea, which can lead to severe dehydration and, if untreated, death. Dr. Meroni Abraham, International Medical Corps’ Medical Coordinator in Juba, South Sudan, explained, "Cholera is treatable, but timely treatment is critical."

The majority of these cases have been in the capital, Juba, where International Medical Corps has been fighting cholera in the city’s largest displacement camps. These camps, or “protection of civilian” (POC) sites, host more than 37,000 people. Many of them have sought refuge there since South Sudan’s civil war first erupted in late 2013, but others poured into the UN Houses this July, after deadly fighting broke out in the capital between government and opposition forces. It was on the heels of this violence that the first cholera case was confirmed in the camp.

While this was not the first time International Medical Corps had responded to cholera in the camp, the aftermath of the July violence made the disease more difficult to prevent. "Sanitation in the camp deteriorated significantly and water supply was disrupted for a number of days, as the fighting prevented road traffic in and out of the camp," said Dr. Abraham. "This, combined with the onset of heavy rains, created a perfect storm for a cholera outbreak."

Dr. Abraham and his team were prepared. All clinical staff were trained on cholera case management and disease surveillance. Cholera bed, medicines, supplies, and testing kits were all prepositioned in the camp so that response could start immediately if it was needed. "It was because of this preparation that we were able to begin testing and treating people immediately," said Dr. Abraham.

In addition to being curable, cholera is also preventable, if people follow strict hygiene practices and have access to safe drinking water and sanitation services. It is because of this that Dr. Abraham and his team trained 70 community health workers to equip families with the knowledge they need to keep themselves safe from the disease and know the signs and symptoms and where to seek treatment. Dr. Abraham said, "The community health workers have gone house-to-house, talking with families about how cholera is spread. Stopping a cholera outbreak is as much about education as it is about timely treatment." In total, International Medical Corps treated 88 cholera patients in the Juba POCs since the first case on July 21. All of them survived. "Every case that we have treated in the cholera treatment unit or the cholera treatment center is a success story," Dr. Abraham said.

We thank the GlobalGiving community for your continued support as we work to treat and prevent cholera in South Sudan.

Cholera Treatment Center in Juba
Cholera Treatment Center in Juba
Preparing Cholera disinfectant
Preparing Cholera disinfectant
Dec 1, 2016

Improving Nutrition for Children

Kapana holds her daughter, Kumari, for a check-up
Kapana holds her daughter, Kumari, for a check-up

Kumari was only five months old when her mother, Kapana, brought her to an International Medical Corps nutrition center in Nepal. Kumari was born with a cleft lip and palate, which made breastfeeding difficult. Kapana knew that Kumari was smaller than most children her age, but she did not realize that her daughter had developed severe acute malnutrition, a condition which can cause physical and mental development disorders. Kapana said, “I would have never known my child was suffering from malnutrition if this program had not come to our community.”

Kumari was not yet born when the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, but her country is still reeling from the effects. In the months that followed, the people of Nepal experienced hundreds of aftershocks, including two major earthquakes in May 2015, causing further damage to infrastructure and services. An estimated 1 in 8 homes were damaged or destroyed, and over 1,000 health facilities were damaged or destroyed. Mothers and babies had very little access to prenatal and postnatal care, and young children were especially vulnerable to malnutrition. To make matters worse, the earthquakes and subsequent landslides destroyed crops and affected the delivery of essential health and nutrition services throughout the country.

International Medical Corps was on the ground within hours of the Nepal earthquake, providing emergency health care and psychosocial support, as well as operating mobile medical units to reach even the most remote communities. More than a year later, we continue to work with local partners to treat severe malnutrition and related medical complications. Our nutrition teams operate 7 nutrition stabilization centers across Nepal, and, as a result, more than 200,000 children under five years-old have increased access to nutrition care.

For severely malnourished children like Kumari, our nutrition centers identify children who are at risk for malnutrition or who are already malnourished; work with mothers to stabilize weight loss and learn healthy feeding practices; and offer nutrition support and feedings to help children reach a healthy weight. Our nutrition support programs and regular checkups help children live happier, healthier lives. Kapana said, “The care I received from International Medical Corps made a real difference for Kumari and taught me a lot about proper care.”

We would like to thank the GlobalGiving community for your support as International Medical Corps helps Nepal build back stronger.

Our teams operate 7 nutrition centers in Nepal
Our teams operate 7 nutrition centers in Nepal
Young children have a higher risk of malnutrition
Young children have a higher risk of malnutrition
 
   

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