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.
Mar 20, 2015

Changing of Discriminatory Policies in Schools

Behavior change communication is a major focus of International Medical Corps’ work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Deep rooted community change is still required  to prevent, address and overcome gender-based violence and International Medical Corps is making progress towards initiating that change. The following is just one example of our efforts.

“My name is Justin. I have been the principal at the Bitobolo Institute since 2006. Institute of Bitobolo is a religious affiliated school. According to the policies, it is strictly forbidden to accept a girl who is pregnant or has a child. This has been the practice since its inception in 1991. I have witnessed change ever since International Medical Corps established a school club and started sensitizing teachers and students on Gender Based Violence (GBV). During the school year 2013-2014, the project helped the school management to revise the code of conduct for teachers to strengthen prevention and protection of students against sexual violence. As the first line authority of the establishment, I strived to popularize this new code of conduct among teachers to ensure strict compliance.

I was concerned about the issue of teenage mothers and the fact that the school was discriminating against them. For some, the pregnancy was a result of rape or early/forced marriage. This was GBV and we were denying them opportunities just because they were girls. I made the decision to mobilize other colleagues to advocate with the school in Bukavu which is responsible for policy formulation and review to change the policy that was discriminating against teenage mothers. We were lucky that the school in Bukavu had also benefitted from similar activities and had been inaugurated as a gender friendly school. We got verbal approval to start enrolling teenage mothers in the school. We are currently organizing meetings with the student-parent committees to encourage girls to enroll in school. Since then four teenage mothers who had been refused to continue school in 2011 are newly enrolled and are attending classes. The enrollment of girls in the school has increased from 17% of the 150 students and now we have 80 girls (53%) enrolled in the school. I have also seen a reduction in the cases of GBV in the school. During the 2011-2012 school year, we had five cases of sexual assault by teachers and classmates. However, after the establishment of the code of conduct, I have not heard any cases reported.

I am very happy for these improvements and I recommend that International Medical Corps intensifies sensitization and involve more schools in the prevention of GBV for the well-being of our community and in particular for the well-being of the girl child.”

With the generous support of GlobalGiving and other donors International Medical Corps is able to institute such initiatives and will be able to continue to implement programs that follow through on Justin, and many others’ desire for change in their community.

Mar 20, 2015

Strengthening Local Health Services through Reproductive Health and Beyond

Innocent performing a test at Ndofia health center
Innocent performing a test at Ndofia health center

Reproductive health continues to be urgently needed in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and is an area where International Medical Corps continues to respond. Along with ongoing Basic Emergency Obstetric Care training in Eastern DRC clean delivery kits have also been procured and mobilized for distribution. In November of 2014, 16 midwifes in Itebero health zone received this training and 5,090 clean delivery kits were procured and sent to the Walikale, Itebero and Kibua health zones to be distributed. Through the fall of 2014 International Medical Corps also supported transportation and obstetric care for 29 pregnant women with obstetric complications. Another vital focus area for International Medical Corps in this region is the training of skilled laboratory assistants.

International Medical Corps organized training for eight laboratory technicians from the Walikale, Itebero and Kibua health zones. This training was focused on utilization of rapid tests for malaria, diabetes, syphilis and pregnancies.  The practical part of the training was conducted at the Walikale General Hospital where participants learned how to receive and register patients, analyze samples, monitor and give tests results while ensuring all records are kept safely.

The following is the first hand account of Innocent, a trained laboratory assistant of Ndofia Health center.

“I have learned to conduct urine and blood tests for syphilis, diabetes and malaria during the International Medical Corps training. Prior to this training, I used to treat patients based on the signs and symptoms of the disease with no accuracy. I now realize that I could have been treating the wrong diseases since there was no confirmation of what I was treating. Thanks to International Medical Corps, I am now confident regarding the treatment that I give. I can conduct rapid tests and confirm the disease and give appropriate treatment.’’

With the support of Global Giving and other donors International Medical Corps is able to support reproductive health in a holistic fashion by facilitating the broader health needs of mothers before, during and after pregnancy.

Practical learning at Walikale General Hospital
Practical learning at Walikale General Hospital
Mar 2, 2015

Supporting Sustainable Business Continuity Planning Training In Japanese NGOs: Part 2

Introduction to simulation exercise
Introduction to simulation exercise

International Medical Corps, in partnership with Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., successfully completed its Business Continuity Planning (BCP) training for a total of 9 Japanese NGOs. Training took place in the form of in-house lectures and tabletop exercises conducted at each NGO’s headquarters to build organizational capacity to respond to disasters quickly and efficiently. Feedback from all participating organizations has been overwhelmingly positive.

In this last report, we share the experience of long-running Japanese NGO Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC). Established in 1980, JVCis an international NGO implementing various projects in over 20 countries in areas such as agriculture, water provision, forest preservation/utilization, children's education, peace-building, and emergency relief. They implement activities meeting local needs and situations with an eye toward the future of people and the community. They work in over 20 countries including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, South Africa, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and Sudan. In Japan they are implementing awareness-raising activities toward a fair and just society through advocacy, development education and networking as well as supporting recovery efforts after the 2011 earthquake.

International Medical Corps provided JVC with a BCP in-house workshop on November 25th, followed by an emergency scenario simulation exercise on December 25th, 2014.

Takatoshi Hasebe, Administrative Director of JVC:

Since JVC has been working in conflict zones for many years, we’d put serious thought into how we at the Tokyo headquarters should respond if one of our staff members overseas were to get caught in a difficult situation. However, we’d never really thought about having a plan in place if we were ever to face an emergency here in Tokyo, affecting the entire organization. That changed after the March 11th, 2011. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, due to concerns about damage from aftershocks we limited the number of staff allowed to work at headquarters and ordered the remaining staff to work from home. We didn’t have a BCP or any emergency response plan but we managed to act flexibly and start our relief activities in the Tohoku area fairly quickly. But that experience was a wake-up call, forcing us to admit that we needed to prepare ourselves for similar emergencies in the future, including possibly an earthquake affecting our headquarters.  However, until now, we hadn’t managed to make any progress towards this end. So it was very timely and fortunate for us that International Medical Corps offered us their customized training in BCP.

On November 25th, International Medical Corps’ Country Representative and Tokio Marine’s risk management expert came to our office and gave 14 of our staff including our director-general and myself a thorough introduction into BCP including what it means and what we need to do to create our own BCP. As an NGO, the community looks to us for support, and so when disaster strikes we will have additional emergency response work on top of trying to salvage our regular work. We realized that it is really important for us to prioritize our tasks and scope of work; otherwise we will all be overwhelmed. The staff members who took part in the training commented that the lecture gave them a clearer picture of what needs to be done to prepare the office for both the immediate aftermath of a disaster (e.g., confirming the safety of staff, making sure there is enough food and water for everyone, etc.) as well as to make sure the organization can function and continue operations with limited resources.

Exactly one month after the BCP lecture, International Medical Corps and Tokio Marine came back to our office to provide us with a hands-on simulation exercise to help us experience how we would react if a large-scale disaster were to strike Tokyo. 16 staff members participated. The simulation was split into two parts: (1) immediate response; and (2) business continuity.

During the first part, under the leadership of the director-general we were able to fairly quickly come up with key tasks such as checking on the safety of the building, confirming the safety of the staff who were outside the office, and finding a safe route out of the office. However, we all got a little lost in the beginning, all of the staff were trying to keep notes of the news updates that kept coming in every minute. Later on the trainer pointed out how it is important to prioritize what kinds of information we need to collect and who would do the collecting and reporting back to the group. We also needed to go beyond assigning people to key tasks and clarify exactly what each staff member was supposed to do in their new roles. We also realized that, to be able to respond efficiently, much in advance of the disaster we needed to have emergency contact numbers for each staff, adequate emergency supplies including a radio for getting emergency information, and a list of things to be carried out of the office in case of an evacuation.

During the second part of the exercise, we discussed all that needed to be done by the organization within a week of the disaster, issues like emergency staffing needs and workload, wire transfers to the field to continue overseas operations, press releases and homepage updates, etc. We would also need to decide whether or not we would do an emergency response in the immediate community while also coping with our own difficulties, and if so, to what scale and what would be the necessary resources. Here too we realized how forethought would save us precious time during an emergency. Inevitably things will not go exactly according to plan and we will probably face problems we hadn’t anticipated, but if we continue to anticipate possible scenarios and have a plan for dealing with them, we will have a much better chance at protecting ourselves and the organization’s operations.

There is still so much we need to discuss, but this training has helped us get started with the process. We now know what questions to ask ourselves and what steps we need to take to ensure we have in place an ever-evolving contingency plan. Next March we are planning a follow-up meeting with all the staff members who participated in the training to share feedback and to plan how we will develop our own BCP during the next fiscal year. We are very grateful to International Medical Corps for generously sharing with us this expertise and promise not to let what we have learned go to waste.

Simulation exercise: priority mapping
Simulation exercise: priority mapping
Simulation exercise: feedback
Simulation exercise: feedback
Group discussion
Group discussion
 
   

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