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.
Jun 9, 2016

Addressing Refugee and Migrant Needs in Greece

Distribution of hygiene kits in Thessaloniki
Distribution of hygiene kits in Thessaloniki

“As crisis has evolved, refugees and migrants arriving in Greece have become more stationary, residing in government-established settlements. With individuals and families residing in Greece for the foreseeable future, the government and the humanitarian community are working to expand the services provided – for example: moving from providing emergency first aid to supporting comprehensive health services, including primary and reproductive care and increased psychosocial support,” notes our Emergency Program Coordinator, Sambhavi.

Just over two months after the European Union and Turkey launched a plan to limit the flow of refugees and migrants to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, approximately 54,000 refugees and migrants are now in Greece. But most of them are in a state of limbo. As Greek authorities work to accommodate and process refugees and migrants stranded in the country, approximately 46,000 people on the mainland reside in displacement sites, some ill-equipped to host refugees and lacking access to basic services such as latrines, shelter and more.

As the situation in Greece continues to evolve, International Medical Corps and our local partner, Programs of Development, Social Support, and Medical Cooperation (PRAKSIS), remain flexible in our response to meet the most urgent needs of families we serve. We recently relocated our mobile medical units from the islands of Samos, Leros and Kos, to Attica and Piraeus Port, where more than 5,000 refugees and migrants have established themselves. Since September 2015 our mobile medical teams have seen 5,272 patients, providing basic primary health care services, referrals when needed, linkages to other existing assistance, and basic psychosocial support.

Many refugees and migrants arriving or stranded in Greece have fled conflict in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and some have experienced trauma during their journey. Moreover, many refugees crossing into Greece suffer from stress resulting from basic needs not being met, such as for information, food or weather-appropriate clothing. Uncertainty about the future also causes high levels of anxiety, as can the trauma experienced by losing a home or family members, surviving violence and torture, and travel-related challenges. Sambhavi noted that, “As the crisis continues, the humanitarian community is seeing increased use of negative coping strategies like overuse of alcohol and use of drugs as well as increased inter-camp conflicts. Scaling up support for mental health is critical.”

To help meet their psychosocial needs, International Medical Corps’ mental health and psychosocial support specialists conducted 19 psychological first aid trainings for front line workers who interact with refugees and migrants to better enable them to provide initial support. Trainees learned how best to engage the refugees—offering a sense of safety, stabilizing them, gathering information, providing help with coping mechanisms, and connecting them with practical assistance, for example, related to shelter, food, water and clothing. A total of 286 participants attended the trainings, held in Athens, Lesvos, Samos, Leros, and Kos. The participants included personnel from the Greek coast guard, law enforcement, social workers, humanitarian staff, volunteers, and others.

As refugees and migrants traveling to Greece by sea are able to carry very little with them and are in need of basic supplies such as clothing, sleeping bags, and hygiene items once they arrive, International Medical Corps also collaborated with PRAKSIS and other relief organizations to provide such supplies, ranging from mattresses to hygiene kits, which include items such as towels, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and feminine hygiene products. “With support from gift-in-kind donors and cash contributions International Medical Corps is able to position staff and materials to reach those in need.” says Sambhavi, “On one recent afternoon, we distributed more than 500 hygiene kits in new formal camps to people who had been evacuated from the informal settlement at Idomeni just that morning.”

Today, we are working to increase our primary and reproductive health services, as well as address gaps in water, sanitation and hygiene. We thank you for your continued support as we address the most urgent needs of families arriving in Greece. 

Medical consultation in Greece
Medical consultation in Greece
Relocating refugees from informal sites
Relocating refugees from informal sites
Jun 9, 2016

Lifesaving Maternal Care in South Sudan

Graduation at the Wau Health Sciences Institute
Graduation at the Wau Health Sciences Institute

With only one medical doctor for every 65,574 people and one midwife for every 39,088 people, South Sudan experiences one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world: 789 deaths per 100,000 live births—as opposed to 21 deaths in the United States. The lack of personnel to provide lifesaving care impacts the availability of skilled attendance before, during and after childbirth.

International Medical Corps is contributing to the South Sudanese government’s goal of reducing maternal, newborn, and child mortality and morbidity rates in the country, and increasing the number of skilled birth attendants. Today, we operate three midwifery and nursing schools in South Sudan, at Kajo Keji Health Sciences Institute, Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery, and Wau Health Sciences Institute.

“Our midwifery school tutors use mixed training methods that focus on skills building so that newly graduated midwives have the confidence to perform services such as Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (known as BEmONC) in the health facilities where they work,” says Janet, our deputy director of health policy and practice. Our teams offer continuous training opportunities for school faculty to ensure that they are equipped with the latest tools and resources to graduate new midwives.

Every year, we increase the number of skilled birth attendants in the country, saving the lives of mothers and newborns. We enrolled our first students in Kajo Keji Health Sciences Institute in 2008, and our schools have graduated a total of 273 trained professionals: 230 midwives and 43 nurses.

Approximately 15% of women will suffer from complications during childbirth, usually due to obstructed labor, puerperal sepsis, hypertensive conditions such as eclampsia, and obstetric hemorrhage.

Regardless of where she lives or what medical services she has at her disposal, a woman’s chance of losing her life as a result of these complications decreases dramatically, by as much as two thirds, when she has an attendant present at delivery who is proficient in Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEmONC).

To address these complications, BEmONC is a set of seven signal functions or interventions that must be available to all women at the time of delivery. Parenteral treatment of infection with antibiotics, vacuum-assisted delivery, and manual removal of the placenta and newborn resuscitation are just a few examples of BEmONC interventions.

Our teams work directly with the Ministry of Health to improve our training in BEmONC at the three schools and ensure the long-term sustainability of our midwifery programs.

Janet adds that, “There is an urgent need to expand the number of midwifery training programs in order to meet the need for skilled birth attendants in South Sudan.”

We thank you and the GlobalGiving community for your support as we build the capacity of medical professionals in South Sudan, and work to address gaps in maternal and neonatal care—and save lives. 

Ceremony at Kajo Keji Health Sciences Institute
Ceremony at Kajo Keji Health Sciences Institute
Jun 7, 2016

Effects of Gender-Friendly Schools and School Clubs

Nathalie sharing her story to her peers
Nathalie sharing her story to her peers

“My name is Nathalie. I am 15 years old and in the third year of secondary school. In February, my parents told me they did not have the money to pay for my school fees as well as my brother’s school fees. I would have to stop attending school. I realized that I was going to be a victim of discrimination and that my right to an education would be violated. I told my parents that they must make the effort to pay my brother’s school fees as well as mine, as their decision to remove me from school is a form of sexual- and gender-based violence. I am now able to continue my studies because I had the courage to stand up for my education.”

Nathalie is part of a school club, created by International Medical Corps in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its members lead communication activities with their peers on topics related to the sexual- and gender-based violence that can be experienced in school settings and within families and communities. Students participate in educational events like theater, individual sensitization on topics related to sexual- and gender-based violence, and debates. As we emphasize sustainable interventions, we provide gender-based violence sensitization activities for new school club members.

Since 2010, with support from USAID, our teams have been focusing on increasing community knowledge, awareness and capacity to prevent sexual- and gender-based violence at all levels, including individual, community and societal. The aim of this Behavior Change Communication program is to increase survivors’ access to services, improve quality of services, reduce vulnerability and prevent violence. Men, women, youth, community leaders, and government officials reached by the project are involved in activities that promote gradual positive change.

Mrs. Maombi, a teacher and leader of a school club, is the only women among twenty-five teachers at her school. She encourages students to report any sexual violence they encounter and sensitizes them for what to watch for. Partly because of her promotion of a safe and gender friendly school environment, the committee in charge of Mrs. Maombi’s school recently nominated her to be the headmistress of the largest institute in Walikale territory. Mrs. Maombi says she is extremely grateful for the collaboration with International Medical Corps’ Behavior Change Communication project.

Nathalie adds that, “I am proud to be a member of the school club that gave me such confidence. Any opportunity I have, I encourage my peers to never give up in similar situations and have the courage to face their parents.”

We thank you for your continued support as reach students like Nathalie and teachers like Mrs. Maombi to promote behavior change in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Individual peer sensitization
Individual peer sensitization
Theater activities for International Women
Theater activities for International Women's Day
 
   

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