May 2, 2011

One Million Medical Consultations to Flood Victims

Hyderabad, Pakistan
Hyderabad, Pakistan

In the aftermath of a major disaster, figures often paint a bleak picture of widespread devastation and lives lost. Occasionally, numbers can also show a community on the road to recovery. Since responding to the widespread flooding, our 100 Pakistani medical teams have provided more than 1 million medical consultations to flood victims, ranging from check-ups to lifesaving emergency surgeries.

In addition we have expanded our programs in the hardest hit areas to prioritize long-term recovery. Over the past 8 months we have:

  • Provided 35,000 psychosocial support sessions to adults and children under 12.
  • Conducted more than 1 million health and hygiene education classes.
  • Begun economic recovery training programs to give women the ability to achieve financial independence.

Our commitment is clear: International Medical Corps has been working in Pakistan since 1984 and our long history there has fostered a team of local doctors and experts ready to answer their community's needs. Our response to this tragedy was executed and led by our Pakistani staff and local medical professionals.


Apr 12, 2011

Important Update from the Field

Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo

Right now, there is a serious medical crisis happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo.   One of the worst maternal mortality rates in Africa, 1,100 out of 100,000 mothers will die due to pregnancy related causes.[i]  Compare this figure with the United States, where 11 mothers will die for the same number of pregnancies. 

In DRC, International Medical Corps’ goal is to provide comprehensive health care to mothers and their children that would otherwise be completely unavailable.  This includes making sure that mothers can see a doctor or skilled health professional during and after their pregnancy.  Since January, our staff in DRC arranged 2,270 checkups with expectant mothers, with an additional 920 visits post-pregnancy.   

In North and South Kivu, we also continue to support 62 health centers and 6 hospitals, providing medical supplies, personnel training, and referral and transfer of patients in need of special care.

One of the most horrific and widely reported aspects of the civil war in DRC is the use of Gender Based Violence (GBV) as a weapon of war.  In addition to caring for survivors, International Medical Corps believes a holistic approach, one which engages the entire community, is the best way to prevent this type of violence.  That’s why we prioritize education, training, and advocacy in the fight to end GBV. 

This December, International Medical Corps recognized 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence with activities to raise awareness in the Democratic Republic of Congo.   In addition to walking in a march organized by La Commission Territoriale de Lutte Contre les Violences Sexuelles in Uvira, our staff conducted trainings and education sessions on GBV awareness and prevention. 

Our staff trained 79 members of eight community-based organizations in Baraka, Nundu, and Ruzizi on supporting survivors of GBV. Topics ranged from processing referrals to providing emotional support for survivors.   In Chambucha, we organized activities that encouraged girls and boys to work together equally, such as mobile cinema in schools and a football tournament. 

“Positive engagement of youth is an important strategy for GBV prevention and response,” says Micah Williams, Gender-Based Violence Specialist for International Medical Corps. “Many young people have been affected, both directly and indirectly, by violence in DRC, and special efforts must be taken to provide appropriate support for affected children and youth. Young people are also still developing ideas of gender and patterns of behavior that are more engrained in adults. Early exposure to concepts of gender equality, human rights, and nonviolence will allow youth to form positive ideas and behaviors that will shape the future of DRC.”

Our work in DRC is possible because of your generosity.  Thank you so much for supporting International Medical Corps!


[i] WHO 2010 Country Statistic

Apr 6, 2011

In Tsunami-Ravaged Town, a Gift of Hope

John Ferguson in Ogatsu-machi.
John Ferguson in Ogatsu-machi.

Every job has ups and downs, but today topped all other “up” days.

Japan’s Prefectural Office of Disaster Assistance asked International Medical Corps to assess an area called Ogatsu-machi. A small fishing and oyster town of roughly 4,700 people, Ogatsu was extremely difficult to access after the tsunami, as most of the roads and bridges leading to it were washed away. To get there, our team came by road through the mountains to the west, a route that just recently became possible thanks to recent road repair.

When we arrived, we found that the village had virtually nothing. 

Roughly 75 percent of the town had been completely destroyed by the tsunami; 1,300 people are living in 16 evacuation sites, some of which house as many as 600 people. Electricity is available only at sites that have generators, and cell phone service is still out.  On top of this, 50 percent of Ogotsu’s population is older than 60, creating a need for consistent medical care and management of chronic illnesses.

Despite the town’s isolation, they were receiving medical services, thanks to the work of local humanitarian organizations and volunteer doctor groups - and had food, clothing, and, blankets. What they needed, they said, was a washing machine, plates, and new chopsticks (they had been using the same ones for going on 10 days which was unsanitary).

The next day, we woke up determined to get what they needed. We bought two washing machines, two water tanks, laundry detergent, hangers, plates, and chopsticks and hit the road back to Ogotsu, where we were directed to one of the 16 evacuation centers.

When we got there, people poured out to see us. A group of ladies soon surrounded me and asked me all kinds of questions. I told them I was from American and came to help.  Then one of the ladies said she had lost her daughter to the tsunami. Another woman said she had lost her house and her cat.

Despite their tragic losses, the women were all smiles and giggles. One of the women reminded me that laughter was the best medicine of all, not just for them, but for everyone involved, including me.

I wanted to share this story because I want those who supported our emergency relief efforts in Japan to know that, because of their support, we were not only able to provide the people of Ogatsu with what they needed, but were also able to give them something priceless - hope. They know now that the world cares and is trying to help.

And there is no better gift than that.

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