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.
Dec 29, 2016

Bringing Safe Water to Yemen Communities

Doa
Doa'a explains the importance of safe water tanks

Like most of International Medical Corps’ staff around the world, Doa’a is a member of the community she serves. She understands the problems in war-torn Yemen because they are her problems too. In May 2015, fighting broke out in Aden, forcing Doa’a and her family to flee their home in the city’s Touwahi neighborhood. After three months, they were able to return home, but Doa’a, now pregnant with her second child, is eager to move to a new neighborhood. She said, “The problem in Touwahi is water—or lack of it. In our new neighborhood, we will have eight hours of running water every day. In Touwahi, there is eight hours of water, but only every two days.”

Not only is Touwahi’s water supply limited, but it is also improperly stored. Doa’a explained, “The way it is stored here makes it relatively easy for mosquitos to breed that carry dengue fever.” In her role at International Medical Corps, Doa’a frequently teaches families about the dangers of contaminated or standing water, and she knew that the water supply in her own neighborhood was putting her family’s health at risk.

After more than a year and a half of conflict, Yemen’s civil war has led to the steady deterioration of humanitarian conditions, including a severe lack of water. An estimated 19.4 million people are without clean water and adequate sanitation. Neighborhoods that do have water often rely on open tanks, which can become contaminated or act as breeding grounds for vector-borne diseases. The war has also caused widespread shortages of fuel, which is required to operate water pumps.

In response to persistent needs, International Medical Corps supports seven health facilities and seven hospitals in Yemen by providing water trucks to keep healthcare providers operational in conflict-affected communities. We have coordinated with community leaders in Aden, as well as in Sana’a, Taizz and Ibb, to establish safe water storage tanks in areas with large populations of people internally displaced by the war. Our teams are also conducting hygiene promotion activities and plan to distribute ceramic water filters and hygiene kits, including items such as soap, toothpaste and toilet paper.

“We continue with our work against a backdrop of violence that is never far away,” Doa’a said of her International Medical Corps colleagues. She confided, “I carry the hope that this war will end soon. I would love to plan for our future and the future of our children, but, for now, conditions don’t permit that.”

We would like to thank the GlobalGiving community for helping us provide clean, safe water and hygiene supplies to the people of Yemen.

A child reads a hygiene pamphlet
A child reads a hygiene pamphlet
Doa
Doa'a examines blood samples of dengue patients
Dec 15, 2016

Helping Babies Grow: Baby Nina's Story

Baby Nina
Baby Nina

One-year-old Nina was malnourished and underweight when her grandmother brought her to an International Medical Corps' nutrition program in Eldoro village in coastal Kenya, one of the most arid regions in the country. Nina weighed only 15.8 pounds—nearly 5 pounds less than the average one year-old in the United States. To make matters worse, Nina had contracted tuberculosis and developed a hernia. Our health workers immediately began treating Nina for tuberculosis, but she was too weak to undergo invasive surgery to repair the hernia.

Nina’s story is far from uncommon in Kenya. The prolonged drought has left much of the country barren, depleting the water supply, drying the soil into cracked scales, and killing off livestock. About 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and many face chronic food insecurity, which has led to high levels of stunted and underweight children under five years of age. Many locals, including Nina’s mother, have left the village to find work in nearby cities in hopes of better supporting their families.

Earlier this year, International Medical Corps partnered with Kenya’s Ministry of Health to establish a new program to address the high levels of underweight and malnourished children, which are exacerbated by the ongoing drought. Thirty-two young children and their caregivers enrolled in the nutrition program, including Nina and her grandmother. The participants met for 12 days to learn how to prepare nutritious, locally available foods. They also covered the importance of good hygiene practices, such as hand-washing, changing diapers, and healthy eating. After the 12 days of lessons, community health workers visited each family for 10 days to make sure that caregivers were putting their lessons into practice.

After the first 20 days of the program, Nina already weighed 18 pounds, a much healthier weight for a one-year-old baby. As her weight continues to improve, she will also be able to fully recover from tuberculosis and hernia treatment. “I sincerely want to thank International Medical Corps for coming in time to rescue my child," Nina’s grandmother said. “Were it not for International Medical Corps and the partners in this nutrition program, I would have lost my child.”

We would like to thank the GlobalGiving community for your support of our nutrition programs in the face of ongoing drought to help Nina and other children lead healthier, happier lives.

Mothers and Children in the Nutrition Program
Mothers and Children in the Nutrition Program
Nina and Her Grandmother
Nina and Her Grandmother
Dec 5, 2016

"Please Be Kind to Us": Roumatsh's Story

Roumatsh receives prenatal care
Roumatsh receives prenatal care

Roumatsh was already pregnant with her fourth child when she and her husband boarded a small dinghy bound for Greece. Several months earlier, they had made the difficult decision to leave their home in war-torn home Syria for the chance to give their children a “normal life” in Europe. They knew that crossing the Mediterranean Sea would be dangerous, especially for an expectant mother. Roumatsh said, “I was afraid something would happen to my pregnancy.” By the time they arrived in Greece, most European countries had closed their borders, leaving the family stranded in limbo in Skaramagas Camp.

Roumatsh’s story is heartbreaking, but not unique. Since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, more than 4.8 million Syrians have fled their homes to seek refuge in neighboring countries. In 2016 alone, some 349,000 refugees and migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other nations have reached Europe by sea, more than 171,000 of whom landed in Greece. The capacity to accommodate refugees arriving on the Greek islands was quickly exceeded, and many refugees are now housed in informal camps and settlements on the mainland, or moving outside of camps into urban spaces. “I thought it would be better when we arrived in Europe,” Roumatsh said, “Now we are stuck.” There is often limited access to primary health care, and many pregnant women, like Roumatsh, find it difficult to access prenatal or obstetric care to ensure safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Since fall 2015, our teams have operated in Greece, first on the islands, then the mainland, remaining flexible to meet the growing needs of refugees desperately travelling to Europe. With the support of GlobalGiving and other donors, International Medical Corps has provided emergency services, like health care and water, sanitation and hygiene support, to meet the growing needs of men, women, and children seeking care.

With women and children under four years making up some 56% of refugee and arrivals in Greece, International Medical Corps began scaling reproductive health, including obstetric/gynecological services. Over a span of three months, we have provided 246 women with 460 prenatal, postnatal and gynecological consultations in camps across Greece.

Roumatsh received prenatal care services from our clinic in Skaramagas Camp the first day it opened. When asked what she wished the world would understand about her situation, she replied: ‘I want people to know we are tired. Please be kind to us.”

We would like to thank the GlobalGiving community for your support of our work in Greece, helping mothers like Roumatsh have safe and healthy pregnancies.

A health worker checks Roumatsh
A health worker checks Roumatsh's blood pressure
Skaramagas Camp with pre-fab housing containers
Skaramagas Camp with pre-fab housing containers
 
   

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