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.
Aug 8, 2016

Japan Earthquakes: Relief and Recovery

International Medical Corps teams providing care
International Medical Corps teams providing care

“We never expected this to happen,” said Reiko, 81. “There are no signs that tell us that an earthquake is coming.” Reiko is one of the thousands whose homes were destroyed or damaged in the recent earthquakes in Japan in April 2016.

On April 14, a powerful magnitude 6.2 earthquake hit Kumamoto Prefecture of Japan, followed just 48 hours later by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. More than 1,700 aftershocks hit in the weeks that followed. Our teams deployed from Tokyo and arrived within hours of the second earthquake, reaching the epicenter in Kumamoto. We have been partnering with the government and local authorities to provide surge capacity and respond. Since the quakes, our teams have reached some 2,500 people forced from their homes into more than 20 evacuation centers across the affected areas.

With 49 deaths, 1,400 people injured, and 145,000 buildings destroyed or damaged, water, sanitation and hygiene services, rehabilitative care, and psychosocial support were among the greatest needs for individuals suffering from the impact of the earthquakes. Our teams emphasized care for the most vulnerable – older evacuees – who, when many individuals began returning home, had to stay behind due to limited mobility and need for additional assistance. To address the most urgent needs, we reached 201 older evacuees with occupational and physical therapy to support rehabilitative care and 1,278 people with 5,561 relief materials including clothing, bedding, water supplies, lights, and more.

To accommodate individuals seeking temporary shelter, our teams provided 722 people with hygiene kits containing soap, toothbrushes, and toothpaste to help people stay healthy and prevent the spread of disease. In order to support strained evacuation centers, we provided 10 latrines, which can reach 500 people with additional sanitary care. International Medical Corps also provided psychological first aid training – a core aspect of our approach to psychosocial support in an emergency – for 15 local staff members to help strengthen positive coping strategies and build local capacity.

When recalling the quakes, Yukie says, “I didn’t expect such a huge earthquake. I evacuated by car, which belongs to my neighbor. I was so scared and couldn’t sleep by myself. I spent the night in the car. Then, the second one happened [two days later]. It was beyond imagination. I cannot go back to my house,” she said. At 88 years old, Yukie lived by herself in her home in the bamboo-covered mountains above Mifune, a town in Kumamoto Prefecture. To support evacuees’ mental and physical well-being, our teams worked with 9 physical or occupational therapists, 3 psychosocial support professionals, and 8 nurses to serve evacuees with limited access to care. With 10 doctors from Kumamoto City Hospital, we ensured quality service delivery.

As individuals like Reiko and Yukie continue to recover from the effects of the quakes, our teams are working with our local partner, Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center, to provide shelter support, distribute food, and provide relief services to individuals who remain displaced. We thank you and the GlobalGiving community for your timely support as we reach those in need. 

Reiko and her husband evacuated to a school
Reiko and her husband evacuated to a school
Yukie is among the quake-affected individuals
Yukie is among the quake-affected individuals
Responding to the April 2016 quakes
Responding to the April 2016 quakes
Jul 28, 2016

Keeping Mothers and Babies Safe in Sierra Leone

Emergency obstetric care is critical to save lives
Emergency obstetric care is critical to save lives

A maternal and child health aide described a newborn baby as “pale and floppy” following a complex caesarean. “Previously we would have just wrapped the baby in a blanket and thought there was nothing we could do, but now we know what to do.” Because of International Medical Corps’ pilot training program, the maternal and child health aide used her newly-acquired skills and successfully resuscitated the baby. She was so proud of what she had done and she said her colleagues all thought she was a hero. Since then, the maternal and child health aide believes up to 40 babies have been saved due to the teams’ improved understanding of newborn resuscitation.

Flexible and generous funding from GlobalGiving and other donors enables International Medical Corps to make strategic investments to address gaps in Ebola preparedness and response capacity within the health system and in communities. For example, the Northern Province of Sierra Leone – where Port Loko District and our midwifery pilot project are located – has the lowest rate of births attended by skilled birth attendants and the lowest number of institutional deliveries in the country.

The health needs of its population of more than 500,000 are met by only 107 Primary Health Units and two hospitals providing secondary and tertiary care. During the Ebola outbreak, the number of cases in Port Loko District was second only to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. One way our teams are addressing gaps in infection prevention and control readiness is by training maternal and child health aides, individuals who are responsible for maternal and newborn health in Sierra Leone’s health system.

Today, we have trained 50 maternal and child health aides with our midwifery mentorship program, supporting increased infection prevention control measures as well as training on emergency obstetric and maternal and newborn health practices – like newborn resuscitation – improving health workers’ ability to keep themselves and mothers and babies safe. The lives of many women and newborns have already been saved as a result of International Medical Corps’ pilot midwifery training and mentorship program for maternal and child health aides and midwives in Port Loko District of Sierra Leone.

People are regaining confidence in the safety of health facilities because of infection prevention control training, and are making greater use of their services for maternal health care and other needs. We thank you and the GlobalGiving community for your support as we continue to build health care confidence in the post-Ebola context.

Training in Port Loko District of Sierra Leone
Training in Port Loko District of Sierra Leone
Maternal and child health aides training
Maternal and child health aides training
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
 
   

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