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 26, 2016

Comfort's Story: Providing Care to Ebola Survivors

Comfort spent 17 days in the Ebola Treatment Unit
Comfort spent 17 days in the Ebola Treatment Unit

“It was like a big cloud over my eyes,” Comfort Kollie says, describing how it felt to slowly lose her sight. Comfort spent 17 days in International Medical Corps’ Ebola Treatment Unit in Bong, Liberia before being discharged with a clean bill of health. But not long after returning home to her family, Comfort began experiencing excruciating pain in her bones and joints, and then the world began to darken. She recalls, “I cried. I thought I would never see again.”

Comfort is one of some 17,000 survivors of the recent Ebola outbreak, most of whom live in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. During the outbreak, humanitarian organizations like International Medical Corps made tremendous strides in treating and preventing the deadly disease, and in the process raised new questions about the long-term effects of Ebola, which experts call Post-Ebola Syndrome. Like Comfort, many survivors experience Post-Ebola symptoms such as body pains, psychological trauma and vision problems.

Megan Vitek, a registered nurse and program coordinator for International Medical Corps’ Post-Ebola Syndrome program says, “There is still so much unknown about what happens to a survivor’s body once their blood test is negative and they are discharged from the Ebola Treatment Unit.” Research into long-term side effects suggests that the virus can persist in bodily fluids, such as semen, and areas of the inner eye, where the virus causes blinding lesions.

International Medical Corps takes an integrated approach to survivor care. Across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, we are leveraging our experience on the frontline of the fight against Ebola to rebuild devastated health systems by training health workers, providing primary care and fostering community engagement. Our outreach programs work with survivors to rebuild lives and communities by dispelling myths, leading health promotion activities and facilitating dialogue. In Liberia in particular, our team also works with ophthalmologists to treat lesions caused by Ebola, as well as physiotherapists to combat bone and joint pain. When Comfort’s symptoms grew worse, she turned, once again, to International Medical Corps. She still experiences some pain in her bones and joints, but she has fully recovered her sight, and has returned to her career as a nurse. She says, “Because of International Medical Corps’ help, I can see clearly now.”

We want to thank the GlobalGiving community for your support as we continue to promote infection prevention and control and provide healthcare to Ebola survivors who need it the most.

A doctor performs an eye exam on an Ebola survivor
A doctor performs an eye exam on an Ebola survivor
A survivor receives treatment for his eyesight
A survivor receives treatment for his eyesight
Oct 11, 2016

Emergency Response Update: Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew caused significant damage
Hurricane Matthew caused significant damage

International Medical Corps’ emergency response team is on the ground in southwestern Haiti, providing medical care and emergency relief in some of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew.

“We have heard reports of localized cholera outbreaks in communities along the coast, largely in areas that have yet to be reached with assistance,” says Sean Casey, International Medical Corps’ emergency response team leader on the ground. “Every hour counts. We urgently need access to cut-off areas so we can help stop these cholera outbreaks, or we could have a crisis that kills far more people than the storm itself.”

In Les Cayes, a seaport in the area of southwestern Haiti that bore the brunt of the storm, our teams assessed temporary shelters and found that many are overcrowded, with a number of children and adults reporting illness. Our team has found that many hurricane-affected communities lack access to safe drinking water, putting them at high-risk of disease outbreaks, while many health facilities are damaged with limited or no supplies.

Already Immaculate Conception Hospital in Les Cayes, Sud Department, has reported two patients with cholera, and at least three cases have been reported in Jérémie, Grand’Anse Department. There are additional unconfirmed reports of isolated outbreaks of cholera along the southern coast, which has the potential to spread as access between communities improves.

In support of the Government of Haiti’s response efforts, International Medical Corps is focusing on reaching hard-hit and remote areas with medical care, water, sanitation and hygiene support, and expanding cholera prevention and treatment efforts, including:

 

  • Deploying mobile medical units to provide health care, including working to mitigate the spread of cholera
  • Supporting local health facilities with medical personnel, medicines and medical supplies, clean water, debris removal, and additional assistance as needed
  • Ensuring communities have access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, and hygiene supplies to prevent the spread of cholera and other diseases

In response to the needs resulting from Hurricane Matthew, we plan to continue and scale this work, and are grateful for the GlobalGiving community's support. 

Over 61,000 people are in evacuation shelters
Over 61,000 people are in evacuation shelters
We are addressing needs in southwestern Haiti
We are addressing needs in southwestern Haiti
Oct 7, 2016

International Medical Corps Emergency Response Teams on the Ground in Southern Haiti and Bahamas

Some 350,000 people are in need of assistance
Some 350,000 people are in need of assistance

With travel by road restricted by damage from Hurricane Matthew, International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team arrived by helicopter in Les Cayes, a city in the area of southwestern Haiti that bore the brunt of the storm. The Category 4 storm made direct landfall with sustained winds of 145 mph on October 4, causing widespread destruction that has left some of the hardest hit communities unreachable.

“Heavy rainfall and flooding create fertile ground for disease outbreaks like cholera, which our teams have been treating in Haiti since 2010,” says Sean Casey, International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team Leader in Haiti. “Ensuring people have access to clean water, sanitation facilities, and hygiene supplies will be essential in preventing the spread of illness. We will also be looking to support local health facilities and other immediate needs of affected communities.”

As responders continue to assess the full scale damage in Haiti, the United Nations estimates 350,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance following the storm, while a reported 21,000 people are staying in shelters and preliminary assessments found some 28,000 houses were damaged. The hurricane flattened villages, damaged local infrastructure and, with nearly 300 people killed by the storm, devastated families and communities. In response, additional emergency response experts, including a water, sanitation, and hygiene specialist, are en route to Haiti to join International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team in Les Cayes.

Our team in the Bahamas, which is made up of 700 islands and particularly vulnerable to tropical storms, as much of the country is low-lying and coastal, is preparing to travel to the hardest hit areas as soon as possible to determine the greatest needs and provide emergency assistance to survivors.

We thank you for your continued support as we assess and respond to the most urgent needs following the devastation from Hurricane Mathew. 

Damage in Les Cayes, Haiti
Damage in Les Cayes, Haiti
Flooding in Nassau, the Bahamas
Flooding in Nassau, the Bahamas
 
   

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