Sep 21, 2020

Community Health Workers Help Protect Cameroonians

Misra raising awareness of COVID-19
Misra raising awareness of COVID-19

The first case of COVID-19 in Cameroon was reported on March 6, 2020. In April, a young Cameroonian named Misra joined International Medical Corps as a Community Health Worker at Timangolo refugee camp. Her job: to raise awareness of the virus and change community behavior to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Just like the rest of the world, the local community in Timangolo has had to adapt. "Before COVID-19, the refugee community observed Fulani cultural practices, such as shaking hands during greetings, using 'boutas' kettles during daily prayers and gathering during funerals, baptisms and meals," Misra explains. "My colleagues and I worked to educate the community on handwashing with soap, social distancing, mask wearing, and coughing or sneezing into one’s elbow."

Misra feels she is making a difference. "We have noticed a change in behavior. For example, people wear masks when they go out now, and the elderly do not go out as much as before," she says. "Community members have come to understand that if the barrier measures are not respected, they can end up contracting the disease if they come into contact with a sick person. All of these things are helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Timangolo."

"I feel proud," Misra says, "because the refugee community understands that the messages we share are not intended for them to abandon what is dear to them—it is simply a means to protect them."

Misra's success is an example of how training can save lives.

International Medical Corps is carrying out COVID-19 awareness raising activities, like those in Cameroon, and more in the some 30 countries where we operate.

As of September 18, according to the Johns Hopkins University dashboard, there have been more than 30 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 946,000 deaths globally. International Medical Corps launched an immediate response to the pandemic, and have since screened more than 920,821 people for COVID-19, distributed more than 11.6 million pieces of personal protective equipment and trained more than 12,281 frontline healthcare workers on COVID-19 prevention and control measures around the world.

Thanks to the support from the GlobalGiving community, our teams can continue to work with healthcare leaders, like Misra, to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic and provide lifesaving services around the world.

The community now practices social distancing
The community now practices social distancing
Sep 16, 2020

Dr. Joshua: The Optimistic COVID-19 Survivor

International Medical Corps' Dr. Joshua
International Medical Corps' Dr. Joshua

Being a doctor in South Sudan—a conflict-ridden, chronically insecure, abysmally poor country—is one of the most daunting professions on earth. Dr. Joshua, a South Sudanese medical professional in charge of International Medical Corps’ health facility in Juba’s “protection of civilians” camp, has faced many challenges over the past four-and-a-half years. When asked about the circumstances that he and his colleagues face on a daily basis, he says, with surprising lightheartedness, “We manage.” Then in May, Dr. Joshua encountered a new challenge: he contracted COVID-19.

He still does not know how he got it. As soon as reports started coming in about the pandemic, International Medical Corps took protective measures to ensure the safety of our staff around the world. He assumes he contracted the virus from a civilian who traveled to the market, where the first COVID-19 cases started appearing in early April.

In early May, Dr. Joshua came down with a severe headache. At first, this didn’t seem unusual—he sometimes gets headaches after long, stressful days. But he couldn’t sleep this one off. So he called his colleague and he told him to put on personal protective equipment (PPE) and come over to take a sample. When the test came back positive two days later, Dr. Joshua’s biggest worry was not his own health, but whether he would transmit the virus to others—particularly his patients with chronic illnesses.

By May 11, Dr. Joshua had developed a cough, high fever and chills, and our South Sudan team prepared an ambulance to take him to the COVID-19 treatment center. “During treatment, I wasn’t scared because there were a lot of people who took care of me and came and checked on me often,” he says. “I got a lot of support from my International Medical Corps colleagues in South Sudan and around the world, and lots of phone calls from my relatives and friends.”

Dr. Joshua could not be discharged until he had two consecutive negative test results, which finally happened on June 14—more than a month after the ambulance came to get him. He went back to work the very next day. “Coming back to work was very right,” he says. “I had a lot of welcoming from colleagues and the community, who told me how valuable I was to them for taking care of them.”

Across South Sudan, the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing every day, but health facilities have not yet been overwhelmed, as many people are choosing to stay home to heal, according to Dr. Joshua. International Medical Corps, which expanded the Juba Infectious Disease Unit in May and set up the country’s first and only intensive-care unit, remains vigilant to the pandemic’s threat and is prepared to respond rapidly.

Dr. Joshua remains positive and grateful. “I would like to send my gratitude to everyone who was concerned for my health from International Medical Corps, the Juba community and my colleagues who have been with me over my entire career,” he says. “I am very healthy and happy now.”

Thanks to the generous support of the GlobalGiving community, International Medical Corps continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in South Sudan.

Healthcare workers in South Sudan wearing PPE
Healthcare workers in South Sudan wearing PPE
Sep 4, 2020

Final Report on Puerto Rico Earthquake Response

Our team visits an informal camp for survivors
Our team visits an informal camp for survivors

This will be our final update as International Medical Corps’ emergency response to the Puerto Rico earthquakes is drawing to a close.

To continue supporting International Medical Corps in Puerto Rico, please visit our “Emergency Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)” project to learn about our global response to the pandemic.

Learn more about our Coronavirus response here:

On January 7, 2020, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Puerto Rico – the strongest quake recorded on the island in more than 100 years – causing power outages across the island and cutting off access to safe drinking water. Damage from the quake and the months of aftershocks that followed left thousands displaced from their homes, residing in evacuation shelters and informal camps with limited access to safe water, sanitation and proper hygiene. More than 250,000 people needed assistance. 

International Medical Corps’ team, based in San Juan, responded quickly and deployed to the most impacted areas of southern Puerto Rico within 48 hours. We provided some 7,000 men, women and children across eight municipalities and 34 evacuation shelters in Puerto Rico with mental health and psychosocial support, relief supplies and increased access to hygiene and nutrition support.

The chaos, uncertainty and loss of homes, community and livelihoods caused by the recurring earthquakes and aftershocks were devastating to people’s mental health and put survivors at risk of psychological distress. Working with a team of 49 volunteers previously trained in Psychological First Aid (PFA), International Medical Corps provided emotional support and practical help to 999 individuals, including 134 children suffering from distress after the earthquake. Our team also trained 90 community leaders on the principles of PFA to help their communities be their own best first responders to future disasters.

With homes damaged and thousands displaced, evacuation shelters and informal camps were set up but lacked access to safe water, sanitation and proper hygiene. Some families were living in large shelters while others resided in small camps set up on public/private land or remained tentatively in their homes but slept in tents or cars overnight.

For example, a fisherman and father of two moved his family to a state-run camp for the municipality of Ponce after their home sustained significant damage during the earthquake. Heavy rains caused the area near the state-run camp to flood, forcing families who had moved there for safety to relocate once again. The fisherman found a camp nestled under an on/off-ramp that leads to the main highway. At night, the area was dark apart from the lights of passing cars, but he preferred the easy access the highway gave his family to flee in the event of any new emergency. The family welcomed the tent and solar lantern provided by International Medical Corps.

International Medical Corps reached thousands of people like the fisherman and his family with soap, towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste, tents, cots, portable showers and more to keep families healthy and prevent the spread of disease.

We thank the GlobalGiving community of donors for bringing awareness and support to International Medical Corps’ response efforts to the Puerto Rico earthquakes.

The earthquakes damaged homes displacing thousands
The earthquakes damaged homes displacing thousands
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