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.
May 3, 2016

Surveillance and Response for Ebola Remains Critical in West Africa

With flare-ups, surveillance and response is vital
With flare-ups, surveillance and response is vital

It was March 18th, a regular Wednesday afternoon and everyone at the International Medical Corps office in Conakry, Guinea was involved in meetings, reports, and calls to ensure the post-Ebola program was running smoothly. Then, a call disrupted that routine at 4:23PM – three Ebola cases were confirmed. Another two were suspected. After a two-year battle with Ebola that sickened and killed thousands, it was news that would make many go silent, unsure of how to react.

“Not our staff though. We get ready to respond.” Laura Stana, International Medical Corps’ Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator in Guinea recalled of that day in March.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, the three most-affected countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea – have each reached the 42-day “Ebola-transmission free” mark at least once, sometimes twice, before discovering new chains of transmission. The most recent outbreak in Guinea left five people dead and put more than 800 people in quarantine. Likely as a result of this latest outbreak in Guinea, reports surfaced on April 1 in neighboring Liberia of the first new Ebola case since early December 2015.

We need to continue to invest in surveillance efforts to ensure that new cases and chains of transmission are quickly identified and isolated.

Growing evidence suggests that bodily fluids, such as semen in men, and breast milk and potentially vaginal fluid in women, can lead to transmission for far longer than originally anticipated—leading to the possibility that most, if not all, of the new Ebola cases are a result of survivor transmission. It is important for teams to integrate surveillance for future outbreaks into care of survivors, conducting strong community engagement and the building surveillance and response networks.

Today, survivor care support, prevention of additional transmission, and the Ministry of Health’s “ring surveillance” approach, which ties ongoing survivor health care with community-based surveillance, builds upon our mission to respond to localized outbreaks, provide infection prevention control services, and safely transfer patients to facilities equipped to treat Ebola.

In Guinea, this integrated approach complements post-Ebola programs implemented in partnership with the CDC, George Washington University and others. The approach includes education about how the Ebola virus is transmitted, safe semen transport and testing, counseling for those who decline testing, reproductive health education for men testing positive and their partners, distribution of prophylactics such as condoms and possible vaccination for partners and close relatives of men who test positive as a preventive measure. Teams emphasize a tracking system to ensure that men who test positive return monthly for testing until they have had two negative tests.

Laura in Guinea notes that, “As Ebola is resurfacing today, International Medical Corps remains prepared to respond to ensure the safety of the Guinean population in the most remote corners of the country. Even in what is regarded as the post-Ebola context, the Rapid Response Teams still conduct weekly simulations to remain prepared for a real intervention.”

She goes on to say that, “In the end, the deployment scenario was explored, but not enacted. At 9AM, the National Coordination for the Eradication of Ebola and humanitarian partners decided to respond via various agencies already located in immediate proximity to outbreak. We continue to make sure that we have the internal capacity to be the first there, no matter where. We are always ready to respond, as we were on March 18th.” 

International Medical Corps thanks you and the GlobalGiving community for your continued support as we continue the fight against Ebola. 

Logistical teams preparing for deployment
Logistical teams preparing for deployment
Rapid Response Team in Ratoma, Guinea
Rapid Response Team in Ratoma, Guinea
Apr 25, 2016

Supporting Emergency Medical Care and Relief Efforts in Aftermath of Ecuador Earthquake

International Medical Corps is helping deliver emergency medical services to survivors of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador on April 16. Longtime First Responder Dr. Robert Fuller is on the ground and working with a team of local volunteer medical professionals to deploy at least four mobile medical teams to provide care in affected areas and provide assistance as needed to damaged hospitals and health facilities.

Dr. Fuller is conducting rapid assessments in some of the most affected areas to identify needs in preparation for the arrival of a mobile medical team shortly thereafter. The team has already assessed the situation in Manabí province, one of the areas hardest hit by the earthquake, where several health facilities are reportedly operating with limited services because of partial damage and lack of electricity and water.  The team is now in Portoviejo en route to Pedernales, a town in Manabí province where the earthquake destroyed more than 500 buildings.

“International Medical Corps stands with the people of Ecuador following this tragedy, and we are deploying additional staff to scale up our support for earthquake relief efforts,” said Chris Skopec, Senior Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response at International Medical Corps. “We are committed to supporting the Government of Ecuador and our local partners to deliver medical care and other relief to survivors as well as work with communities to rebuild and recover.”

The worst earthquake to hit Ecuador in decades has killed more than 570 people and left 7,000 others injured. Some 155 people are official registered as missing, while up to 1,700 people reportedly remain unaccounted for. As of April 20, the Government of Ecuador documented that more than 1,100 buildings were destroyed and another 800 were damaged. More than 530 aftershocks have been recorded since April 16, including ones that were 6.1 and 6.0 in magnitude. 

We thank you and the GlobalGiving community for your continued support as we work to reach those in need with medical care following the earthquake. 

Apr 20, 2016

Delivering Sanitation Care for Earthquake-Affected Families and Individuals

Latrines to support evacuation centers
Latrines to support evacuation centers

International Medical Corps' Emergency Response team arrived in Kumamoto, Japan, this past weekend, to support the Government of Japan’s response efforts following the April 14 and April 16 earthquakes. On April 19, in coordination with local authorities, the team delivered temporary emergency latrines to two evacuation centers in Mashiki to ease the growing strain on hygiene resources. One of the centers, which opened after the first earthquake hit on April 14, was damaged in the larger 7.0-magnitude earthquake that followed and is now accommodating thousands of people who are sleeping in their cars in the parking lot.

The team will provide additional toilets to other evacuation centers across Kumamoto in an effort to accommodate the hundreds of people currently seeking temporary shelter. International Medical Corps is also working to set up temporary showers and distribute personal hygiene items and basic relief supplies at evacuation centers. Moving forward, International Medical Corps is identifying local partners to support ongoing recovery efforts.

Casualties from the earthquakes now reaches at least 44 with an additional 1,100 people injured. On the island of Kyushu, where the earthquakes occurred, rescue personnel are still trying to access villages in remote mountainous areas that are cut off by damaged roads and landslides. More than 1,000 evacuation centers of varying size have been established by the Japanese government and local relief organizations. The government is providing food, but has stated that additional food items, as well as water, medical services, and relief supplies, are still needed, and is scaling support.  

We thank you for your continued support as we work to address identified needs and support relief and recovery in Japan. 

 

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