Jun 10, 2019

Supporting the Vaccination Campaign in Benguet Province

Providing help to the most vulnerable.
Providing help to the most vulnerable.

In March 2019, two villages in Kabayan, Benguet province reported two new and active cases of measles. Previously thought to be measles-free, International Medical Corps sent teams alongside the Philippines Department of Health, to address the rising need for vaccination support.

From January 1 to May 11, 2019, there have been 34,950 measles cases in the Philippines and 90% of those cases had no documented vaccination history. According to Dr. Jojo, Medical Coordinator at International Medical Corps in the Philippines, “the Department of Health approached us in March 2019 because we were already working with them to build capacity for health workers and to facilitate safe water, sanitation and hygiene activities in response to Typhoon Mangkhut. They requested our support on their measles immunization campaign due to the gravity of the situation.”

When we questioned the villagers along with the Department of Health, villagers reported that some of the mothers had been afraid to have their children vaccinated, due to misinformation about the effects. Our teams mobilized immediately, to support measles and Japanese encephalitis vaccinations for 1,825 children across Benguet province.

International Medical Corps enabled access to new knowledge and helped combat the spread of misinformation by conducting community-based awareness sessions on the importance of vaccinations and the nature of vaccine-preventable diseases – such as Japanese encephalitis, which is commonly spread by mosquitos throughout Asia.

On May 27, 2019, UNICEF and the World Health Organization stated that, “partners like the Philippine Red Cross, International Medical Corps, the International Organization for Migration, ReachHealth and AmeriCares have significantly contributed to the large number of children vaccinated, thanks to recruitment of additional vaccinators and necessary supplies for health facilities (Philippines: Measles Outbreak, Situation Report 11, 27 May 2019).”

Thanks to the support of the GlobalGiving community and other donors, International Medical Corps can continue to provide healthcare wherever and whenever it is needed most.

Our teams partnered with the Department of Health.
Our teams partnered with the Department of Health.
Supported vaccinations for 1,825 children.
Supported vaccinations for 1,825 children.
May 16, 2019

Community Recovery, One Person at a Time

Staff meeting with Pastor Miguel's community
Staff meeting with Pastor Miguel's community

On September 20 in Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria affected some 3.9 million people when it made landfall as a Category 5 storm. Following the devastating storm, International Medical Corps met with leaders of the affected areas, such as the Pájaros community in Bayamón on the northeastern part of the island, to determine how our team could help them to build back better.

One of those leaders, Pastor Miguel, told our teams that while the local church had supplied much of the water and food to the community in the immediate aftermath of the storm, he had observed isolation, powerlessness, helplessness and financial loss within his community. Our teams began working directly with members at Pastor Miguel’s church through a series of workshops to combat loneliness and prepare for future disasters.

Following the loss of her husband as a result of the hurricane, “I was in a state of hopelessness,” workshop participant, Celeste, told our team at one of the meetings. Celeste struggled to cope with the destruction of her home, loss of clean water and crippling loss of power – all while mourning her husband. “It was the worst experience in my life,” she said.

Another participant, Juanita, had lost one of her sources of income because she could no longer rent out her home after the pro-longed major power losses. Through the workshops provided by International Medical Corps, participants and community leaders, like Pastor Miguel, learned about topics such as managing emotions, stress management and emergency preparedness during disasters. These workshops gave those affected the resources to heal and help others when they felt that the government had forgotten about their psychosocial needs.

Juanita tells us, “the skills I learned in the workshop will help me to help people.” Juanita feels confident that if another hurricane were to hit her community, she would be much better prepared to help – not just herself, but members of her community, too. “International Medical Corps has given me hope of changing my community for the better,” explains Celeste. Meanwhile, Pastor Miguel plans to use his new knowledge to establish a center of psychosocial support for future catastrophic events.

Thanks to donations, like those from GlobalGiving, International Medical Corps is able to contribute to the continued and sustained recovery of survivors – like Celeste and Juanita – even after the emergency is over.

Juanita, participant from Bayamon, left smiling
Juanita, participant from Bayamon, left smiling
Team members facilitated discussions on emotions
Team members facilitated discussions on emotions
May 2, 2019

A New Class of Midwives

Demonstrating proper newborn care to students
Demonstrating proper newborn care to students

“In my country,” Lexon, who is a midwifery student at one of International Medical Corps’ sponsored schools in South Sudan explains, “we lose so many lives because of carelessness and lack of professionals. I keep asking myself, ‘why do our mothers still die in childbirth?’”

Skilled birth attendants, such as midwives, mean the difference between life and death for mothers and newborns. The United Nations Population Fund asserts that 61% of maternal deaths, 49% of fetal deaths and 60% of newborn deaths could be avoided if all women delivered with a midwife in a fully functioning facility.

Yet in South Sudan, there is only one medical doctor for 65,574 people and one midwife for 39,088, well below the World Health Organization’s recommended threshold of one health worker per 10,000 people. This leaves South Sudan with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world with an estimated 789 deaths per 100,000 live births — compared to 18 deaths per 100,000 live births in the United States.

International Medical Corps supports three midwifery and nursing training schools in South Sudan, the Kajo Keji Health Sciences Institute, the Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery and the Wau Health Sciences Institute, where a total of 146 midwives and 176 nurses have graduated from the three-year training program to date. In 2019, some 45 newly enrolled students began coursework in the sciences, communications, technologies, medical foundations and the humanities.

Many of the new students relying on support from donors to afford school costs, consisting of 19 women and 11 men, came from different parts of the country – some with stories of hardship. Mary, for example, is 24 years old and was born in Kakuma refugee camp, in Kenya. “I went to school in Kenya and came back to South Sudan two years ago and have always wanted to be a midwife.”

Thanks to the GlobalGiving community, students like Mary now have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams of returning to their home communities to support mothers and ensure delivery of healthy babies for years to come.

"I want to be the change" - Lexon
"I want to be the change" - Lexon
"I had a dream to reduce maternal deaths" -Thomas
"I had a dream to reduce maternal deaths" -Thomas
Students in class at the Kajo Keji school
Students in class at the Kajo Keji school
 
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