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.
Oct 20, 2015

International Medical Corps Activates Philippines-based Team in Response to Typhoon Koppu

International Medical Corps is preparing to respond to Typhoon Koppu as it slowly barreled across the main island of Luzon on Sunday, bringing heavy rain and the potential for floods and landslides.

International Medical Corps prepositioned medical mobile kits and water/sanitation/hygiene supplies in advance of the storm. It is also coordinating with the Philippines government, UN agencies and other local and international relief groups. Its team of WASH specialists, a medical doctor, nurses, and logistician are preparing to conduct assessments of the affected areas and deliver relief.

Koppu, known locally as Lando, reached super typhoon strength as it came ashore early Sunday, ripping the roofs off buildings and uprooting trees in the province of Aurora. Roads and communications have been cut off, with power out in 22 towns and two cities, authorities said. So far about 15,000 people had taken shelter in evacuation centers, but the Philippines' disaster management agency said that number is expected to rise.

While some authorities estimated the storm’s maximum sustained winds of 150 mph when it made landfall, it has since lost some of its strength as it lumbers over land.

Koppu is the 12th storm to hit the Philippines this year. An average of 20 storms and typhoons each year batter the archipelago, one of the world's most disaster-prone, with a population of 100 million. A total of 40 million people are estimated to be in the areas affected by Koppu.

International Medical Corps has been operating in the Philippines since 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most ferocious storms on record to hit land, tore through the central part of the country, leveling entire towns and leaving more than 7,300 people dead or missing. International Medical Corps has extensive experience in the region overall, having responded to the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, and the Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Oct 15, 2015

Kais: An Everyday Humanitarian Hero

Kais distributes hygiene kits to displaced persons
Kais distributes hygiene kits to displaced persons

Kais says he never expected all-out war to come to Yemen. But when it arrived last March and turned his life upside down, the 35-year-old water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) specialist working out of the International Medical Corps office in the city of Taiz, adjusted quickly to the extraordinary challenges it brought.

Previously involved in a community-level program to improve sanitation in remote areas of Taiz Governorate, Kais and his WASH team quickly became part of a broader effort on the part of international NGOs operating in Yemen to distribute emergency assistance to those caught up in the violence.

“In just 72 hours, we switched to emergency work,” he explained. “The setting of humanitarian work changed drastically and we had to adapt to it.”

It has been a demanding and dangerous task. In the months since the conflict erupted, Kais has worked long hours and made personal sacrifices—at one point turning his dwelling in Taiz into both an office and a safe place for his entire team of water and sanitation specialists so they could live and work amid the violence. He was also detained at a checkpoint once for hours amid heavy fighting in the area before finally being released. Through it all, Kais has focused on one goal: getting aid to those in great need.

The level of his commitment to help others in the heat of crisis, even in the face of great personal risk, is in the finest traditions of true First Responders. It is also an example of the dedication that enables International Medical Corps to operate successfully in the world’s most challenging environments.

“Kais and his team have demonstrated a positive and inspirational attitude during this emergency response, and have demonstrated a true humanitarian spirit which has been an example to us all,” said Judith Harvie, a senior member of International Medical Corps’ Yemen staff.

Living with his wife and two small children in a rural area 90 minutes from Taiz before the war began in March, Kais immediately rented an apartment in the city when the shooting started in order to be closer to the International Medical Corps office and those in the city who needed assistance. When a house near the office took a direct hit during an airstrike on the city, Kais ordered his team to evacuate, offering his new apartment as an alternative. As the violence escalated, Kais decided the safest, most efficient solution was for the team—14 in all—to move into the apartment and make it a temporary home-office until the fighting eased.

“We stayed together for two weeks until things calmed down,” he recalled. “Inside the apartment, we worked as one team, committed to the task of supporting those needing assistance. We planned our day according to events. We increased our efforts to support those forced to flee their homes because of the fighting and supported three hospitals in Taiz, including helping them get sufficient water supplies. We also tripled our distribution of hygiene kits, reaching more than three thousand families who had to leave their homes.”

Kais said that if he spots someone in obvious need of specialized care while conducting his own work as a WASH officer, he informs the appropriate International Medical Corps specialist. On one recent trip to the field, he came across a displaced mother feeding her baby dirty water because she had no milk of her own. He immediately reported her condition to members of the International Medical Corps nutrition team, who went to assist both mother and child.

Through it all, Kais says what drives him is the knowledge that his work makes a difference.

“Whether we work in development or emergencies, our interventions have a long term impact,” he says. “We not only train people. We create committees of volunteers who follow up to bring change to their own community.”

It is with the support of GlobalGiving and other donors people like Kais are able to make such a tremendous impact in the communities in which they work. Thank you so much for your continued support.

Kais provides hygiene training
Kais provides hygiene training
Kais provides hygiene training
Kais provides hygiene training
Kais assists in providing access to clean water
Kais assists in providing access to clean water
Oct 15, 2015

Spotlight on Nurse Marie-Anne

Nurse Marie-Anne
Nurse Marie-Anne

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in Haiti and the leading cause of cancer death in Haitian women, with an estimated 1,500 deaths annually. In fact, Haiti has the highest reported incidence of cervical cancer of any country in the world, with 94 cases per 100,000 women—50 times higher than the rate in the United States. This disease is preventable, but women in Haiti have not benefited from Pap test screening due to a lack of trained pathologists and a poor healthcare infrastructure. There is no radiation therapy and limited chemotherapy available, and surgical interventions do not meet current standards of care. The result is that 90% of Haitians have no access to cancer treatment. The remaining 10%, i.e., those who can afford it, go to places like neighboring Havana or Miami for their care.

In developing economies like Haiti’s, the WHO recommends using Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) or Visual Inspection with Lugol's Iodine (VILI), followed by cryotherapy if suspicious cervical lesions are visible, also known as the low-cost “see and treat” method. Not only can VIA detect early dysplastic, or precancerous lesions, it also has the advantage that the procedure can be performed by nurses, with treatment offered the same day. VIA has been successfully introduced into many developing countries with great success—including by International Medical Corps in 11 health facilities in Kenya currently, in close partnership with CureCervicalCancer (CCC) and generous donors.

International Medical Corps Nurse Marie-Anne is one of the nurses in Haiti who has become certified in “see and treat.” She is a young, passionate and hardworking woman who grew up and works in Cap-Haitien, the center of International Medial Corps operations. Anne mentioned that when she was young, she was not interested in health care and nursing. She only developed her passion for this work after she moved to Port-au-Prince and finished high school. She now dedicates her career to caring for every patient with kindness and compassion.

Anne is the current Cervical Cancer Program Director for International Medical Corps in Haiti and does tremendous work to ensure the program’s success. Our ultimate goal in this Haiti program is to educate and train dedicated and competent local healthcare professionals, so that they become trainers themselves to expand the “see and treat” method. This train-the-trainer model allows International Medical Corps to expand its reach and save the lives of thousands of women who would have otherwise died from a fatal, pervasive and preventable disease. In early summer, in partnership with CCC, Anne led cervical cancer screening and treatment training for healthcare professionals from various hospitals and clinics in north and north-west Haiti.

This program—and Marie-Anne’s competence—is an excellent example of International Medical Corps’ mission to save lives and implement sustainable programs.

It is with the help of GlobalGiving and other donors that we are able to continue these life-saving programs and deliver necessary care to Haitian women and their families. Thank you so much for your continued support.

 
   

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