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.
Jul 7, 2016

International Medical Corps' Medical Care to Haiti Update - Zika Prevention

Teams providing a mosquito net simulation
Teams providing a mosquito net simulation

The mosquito-borne virus, Zika, has infected more than 700 people in Haiti, and with the babies of infected pregnant women at risk for birth defects, such as microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects, prevention is critical.

International Medical Corps has been working in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake—first, to respond to the emergency medical needs, and, in succeeding years, to the cholera outbreaks in the North and Northeast departments.

We have extensive experience implementing infection prevention and control measures. We responded to the Ebola outbreak and continue to work with governments in the West Africa region to help them build their health systems back up and prepare for the next outbreak. We provided polio and other vaccines for children, training health workers to watch for early symptoms in several countries in Asia and Africa. And, our teams responded to cholera outbreaks in Nigeria, Cameroon, and other affected countries, in addition to Haiti.

Zika is an emerging virus first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys while monitoring for Yellow Fever. In 1952, the virus emerged in humans in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Now, officials recorded outbreaks of the Zika virus in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. The first 5 Haitian cases of Zika were identified on January 18, 2016.

To address Zika, we targeted two health facilities located in flood zones in Cap Haïtien: the Fort St Michel Hospital and the Complexe Médico-Social of Lafossette. Our teams trained 30 nurses and other health care personnel to go on and educate pregnant women to increase Zika awareness and prevention during pre-natal visits, with a special focus to women in their first trimester.

To date, we reached 650 pregnant women with education on Zika prevention. Our teams provided information to communicate what Zika is, its symptoms, and preventative actions, including information on how to avoid mosquito bites. We also distributed pamphlets in the commonly-spoken language, Creole, to further increase awareness. In addition, our teams disseminated 100 insecticide-treated nets and 100 mosquito repellent sprays, along with information about how to use them and their importance, to further reduce the risk of the virus.

Alongside these interventions, our mobile medical teams are educating communities about the importance of preventing mosquito bites to limit Zika, while speaking about cholera prevention—which is also linked to poor drainage and sanitation. These teams reached 650 women with awareness activities.

Staff from the two health facilities, government officials and the women we educated, were appreciative of International Medical Corps’ efforts to prevent the terrible potential effects of Zika on babies, and would like more women to benefit from our work in the future.

We thank you and the GlobalGiving community for your support as we work with the local populations to provide medical care and help prevent the spread of infection and disease in places like Haiti and across the world.  

Educating communities is critical for prevention
Educating communities is critical for prevention
We reached Fort St Michel Hospital with training
We reached Fort St Michel Hospital with training
Jul 5, 2016

Engaging the Community for Sustainability of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Interventions

Hygiene promotion is a critical activity
Hygiene promotion is a critical activity

“We began our water, sanitation and hygiene program with a public meeting with the community members, discussing each activity and the implementation strategy. Engaging the community is critical to help the members possess a sense of ownership of the water, sanitation and hygiene services, ensuring sustainability long after the project ends,” explains Betemariam, International Medical Corps’ Program Director in Sudan.

For more than a decade, Darfur has been affected by conflicts, and other man-made and natural disasters that have translated into forced displacement of populations, with 3.2 million people internally displaced in Sudan by 2015.

International Medical Corps’ interventions are lifesaving in nature. Our teams are reaching nearly 60,000 men and women in Central Darfur to improve sanitation, personal hygiene, and increase access to safe water in order to reduce the burden of communicable diseases, like malaria and diarrhea.

As open defecation is still common and handwashing not always a standard practice, through hygiene promotion activities, we are working to build the local population’s awareness of key public health risks associated with those practices. We educate men, women, and children on the importance of proper sanitation, such as washing one’s hands with soap or an alternative cleansing agent, which can prevent serious illness in both children and adults. To-date, our teams have declared seven villages defecation-free, illustrating the positive impact community-based water, sanitation and hygiene activities can have.

To improve environmental sanitation, which focuses on clean and safe water supply, clean air, efficient and safe waste disposal, and more, we are conducting environmental clean-up campaigns with the communities, facilitating awareness and mobilization for action. Most recently, 734 members participated in campaigns in the villages of Umdukun and Mukjar. Betemariam says of the campaigns, “260 mothers are representing the community and developing action plans, helping improve environmental sanitation and hygiene.” By including community members in all water, sanitation and hygiene activities, we seek to empower each person to adopt and promote improved services.

Since 2004, our teams have worked to restore water delivery and sanitation systems as well as provide essential medical care, implement nutrition programs, and support to the Ministry of Health through health system strengthening activities. We thank you and the GlobalGiving community for helping us continue this work.

We engage local actors to ensure sustainability
We engage local actors to ensure sustainability
Community members near project areas
Community members near project areas
Jun 16, 2016

Working to Address and Prevent Malnutrition

Jennifer at the PD/Hearth Training
Jennifer at the PD/Hearth Training

The East Hararghe Zone of Ethiopia is increasingly affected by chronic and repeated food insecurity due to the ongoing drought, and today, children are even more at risk for malnutrition. In kebeles, or communities, of Garawedaja, Gafra Guda and Awbere in the East Hararghe Zone, our teams are addressing the high levels of malnutrition among children between six months and five years with the Positive Deviance/Hearth program. Jennifer, a member of our Nutrition and Food Security department stresses that, “We work to promote the optimal feeding, caring, and health-seeking practices on a larger scale throughout the community. It’s quite empowering for caregivers – who are often mothers – to know that they hold local solutions to keeping their children well nourished; it’s not brought in by others.”

The Positive Deviance/Hearth program provides the opportunity for community members to teach positive behaviors from households with good nutrition-related practices to households with poorer ones. Jennifer continues on, “The approach uses formative research techniques to really understand the context and identify the optimal feeding, caring and health-seeking practices that are unusual in that they are practiced by only a few households in the same low resource context – but those are what are keeping their children better nourished than the majority of households.”

As Ethiopia is currently suffering from the worst drought in nearly 50 years, resulting in an unprecedented number of underweight children – particularly affecting those between the ages of six months and five years –implementing this program helps rehabilitate malnourished children and prevents new cases of malnutrition.

We are working to reach those with access to available local resources to help improve their nutritional status, yet remain particularly vulnerable, affected by drought or food insecurity. Since 2014, we have been implementing a similar nutrition program in the Wolayita Zone for children aged six months to two years-old. Of the 135 malnourished children who attended and completed Hearth sessions, 123, or 91%, increased significantly in weight. As we expand these efforts into new communities, past communities continue to practices what they learned, addressing malnutrition at its source.

The Positive Deviance/Hearth program taps into the needs and interest by rehabilitating malnourished children and training key community members, caretakers, and local government staff to prevent malnutrition and increase their resilience in the face of crisis. Our teams most recently trained local health staff to identify positive practices of households with well-nourished children in low resource settings, which can be promoted among other families to rehabilitate children as well as prevent malnutrition. We continue to assess the needs to provide the best possible impact in malnutrition prevention, given the ongoing drought and risk for food insecurity, while trained staff communicate improved feeding and caring practices and how to prevent future malnutrition to caregivers.  

We thank you and the GlobalGiving community for your support as we work with the local communities to increase nutrition resilience in the face of ongoing drought. 

Goat
Goat's milk can have many nutrients for children
 
   

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