Oct 25, 2010

Emergency: Alarming Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

A cholera outbreak has struck Central Haiti, causing more than 130 deaths and sickening at least 1,500 others. International Medical Corps teams here in Haiti have already responded with medical supplies to the cholera-affected areas, and are pre-positioning supplies in other areas in the event the outbreak spreads. As the only member of the UN emergency response team, International Medical Corps is ready to deploy a full Emergency Response team with doctors and nurses to the area within 24 hours, if needed.

“International Medical Corps is extremely concerned at the speed in which this outbreak spread,” says Dr. Jojo Cangao, International Medical Corps' medical director in Haiti. “We have already begun community outreach and prepositioning of supplies in the camps in which we work in Port-au-Prince in case the outbreak moves south.” More than one million people have been living in displacement camps since the January 12 earthquake, which killed more than 300,000.

There are already reports of the outbreak moving south, closer to Port-au-Prince, and International Medical Corps is pre-positioning supplies for orphanages in this area. Supplies, such as IV saline solution, water purification tablets, and oral rehydration salts, are being collected to dispatch to Artibonite if needed and to preposition in camps where International Medical Corps runs clinics. International Medical Corps is also coordinating with partners in camps where it has clinics to begin community education campaigns on cholera prevention, identification, and treatment - and clinic staff are being trained in cholera treatment and management.

“We are prepared to support the emergency response to the cholera outbreak however is most needed, whether through medical personnel, supplies, or both,” says Dr. Cangao.

International Medical Corps has extensive experience in cholera outbreak response, management, and prevention, with its most recent responses in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Iraq. Clean water, sanitation, and hygiene are also one of its top organizational priorities, with such programs in countries including Haiti, Somalia, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Thank you so much for your continuing support -- we are able to respond to emergencies like this because of your wonderful generosity. 

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Sep 23, 2010

Letter from Dr. Jojo Cangao, Medical Director in Haiti

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been five months since I became International Medical Corps’ Medical Director in Haiti. Looking back, I am really proud of the number of people we reached and the level of medical care we provided - especially when so many were at their most vulnerable to diseases like malaria, dengue and typhoid fever. To date, there has been no outbreak of disease in Haiti following the earthquake, even with 1.5 million people displaced. Through our 13 mobile clinics throughout the quake-affected regions, International Medical Corps was able to quickly deliver health care services, critical medicines and protect those who lost everything.

We not only successfully cared for people’s physical wounds, but their emotional wounds as well by making mental health care services available to quake-affected Haitians. Mental health care scarcely existed in Haiti before the earthquake and now, because of the training we have provided, our doctors and nurses are able to identify, handle, and if necessary, refer mental health cases for advanced care. In fact, some of our doctors are now going to be certified by the Ministry of Health as providers of mental health care!

Although we’ve made a lot of progress in Haiti, we definitely have some challenges coming our way, namely with the current hurricane season, which could cause larger displacement and even more health problems for an already vulnerable population. Flooding always poses a threat to health, as waterborne diseases become more prominent. With this risk, we have been prioritizing disease surveillance in the areas where we work and contributing to a national system so that outbreaks are tracked and responded to effectively. As our primary health clinics are a vital prevention mechanism, as well as a platform to track outbreaks of diseases, we’ve been working with the government, other international NGOs, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a disease surveillance system through our primary health clinics.

In addition, we are also rolling out our disaster response and preparedness program in Petit Goave and Jacmel, two disaster-prone areas in southern Haiti. Through this program we will train Ministry of Health staff and local communities in emergency preparedness and response, including first-responder training for health professionals. Our biggest challenge will be making sure that we are building an effective health care system that improves upon what t existed previously in Haiti. Even before the earthquake, only 47% of Haitians had access to health care. Seeing the progress made so far though, I believe we can create a health care system that serves all Haitians and I’m excited to be part of the rebuilding process.

Sep 7, 2010

Providing medical care and saving lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo

As you know, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is very serious: since fighting began more than 20 years ago, more than 5 million people have died, millions more have been forced to flee their homes, and sexual violence is being used as a weapon to terrorize communities. This ongoing reality struck close to home when we recently responded and provided medical and psychosocial care to the survivors of the tragic August mass rape attacks in remote eastern Congo.

However, we are making progress in restoring health and hope to these communities. Since International Medical Corps opened, the Kalonge medical center last year, the medical staff has provided fistula repair to hundreds of women. Fistulas are a painful condition that results from complications during childbirth, and in rare instances, sexual violence. What’s more, in the past seven months alone, we provided more than 23,000 pre- and post-natal consultations to women and their babies. In addition, we provided care to more than 600 survivors of sexual violence.

Thank you so much for your past generosity. Thanks to supporters like you, we have been able to provide comprehensive medical care to thousands of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We look forward to your continued support in the future.

 
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