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 15, 2016

Helping Babies Grow: Baby Nina's Story

Baby Nina
Baby Nina

One-year-old Nina was malnourished and underweight when her grandmother brought her to an International Medical Corps' nutrition program in Eldoro village in coastal Kenya, one of the most arid regions in the country. Nina weighed only 15.8 pounds—nearly 5 pounds less than the average one year-old in the United States. To make matters worse, Nina had contracted tuberculosis and developed a hernia. Our health workers immediately began treating Nina for tuberculosis, but she was too weak to undergo invasive surgery to repair the hernia.

Nina’s story is far from uncommon in Kenya. The prolonged drought has left much of the country barren, depleting the water supply, drying the soil into cracked scales, and killing off livestock. About 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and many face chronic food insecurity, which has led to high levels of stunted and underweight children under five years of age. Many locals, including Nina’s mother, have left the village to find work in nearby cities in hopes of better supporting their families.

Earlier this year, International Medical Corps partnered with Kenya’s Ministry of Health to establish a new program to address the high levels of underweight and malnourished children, which are exacerbated by the ongoing drought. Thirty-two young children and their caregivers enrolled in the nutrition program, including Nina and her grandmother. The participants met for 12 days to learn how to prepare nutritious, locally available foods. They also covered the importance of good hygiene practices, such as hand-washing, changing diapers, and healthy eating. After the 12 days of lessons, community health workers visited each family for 10 days to make sure that caregivers were putting their lessons into practice.

After the first 20 days of the program, Nina already weighed 18 pounds, a much healthier weight for a one-year-old baby. As her weight continues to improve, she will also be able to fully recover from tuberculosis and hernia treatment. “I sincerely want to thank International Medical Corps for coming in time to rescue my child," Nina’s grandmother said. “Were it not for International Medical Corps and the partners in this nutrition program, I would have lost my child.”

We would like to thank the GlobalGiving community for your support of our nutrition programs in the face of ongoing drought to help Nina and other children lead healthier, happier lives.

Mothers and Children in the Nutrition Program
Mothers and Children in the Nutrition Program
Nina and Her Grandmother
Nina and Her Grandmother
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
 
   

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