Aug 27, 2020

Final Report - Philippines Emergency Response

The extensive damage caused by Typhoon Phanfone.
The extensive damage caused by Typhoon Phanfone.

As International Medical Corps’ emergency response to Typhoon Phanfone and the Taal Volcano eruptions draws to a close, this will be our final update.

To continue support International Medical Corps and our GlobalGiving Projects, please visit our “Emergency Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) project, where International Medical Corps is providing a global response to the pandemic, including reaching the Philippines.

Learn more about our Coronavirus response here:

Typhoon Phanfone made landfall in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines on December 24, 2019. The category 2 storm affected more than 3.2 million individuals and displaced more than 130,000 residents. Virginia, a member of the community affected by the storm says “all that was left to us was a wall on one side of what used to be our house.”

Only weeks later, on January 12, 2020, the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported that eruptive activity at the Taal Volcano main crater had intensified, with ashfall landing as far as Quezon City, some 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, away from its location in Taal, Batangas. The eruptive activity affected more than 736,000 people and damaged 14,082 homes.

International Medical Corps’ team deployed to some of the most affected areas in Biliran and Eastern and Western Samar in Eastern Visayas as well as to surrounding areas of Batangas province to begin meeting communities’ most urgent needs and helping them to recover following Phanfone and Taal, respectively. Then, on January 30, 2020 the country faced the first death due to COVID-19 outside of Mainland China.

While activities have been impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic restricting travel, International Medical Corps is partnering with municipal health offices to ensure impacted community members receive the critical support that continues to be needed.

In order to respond to both the impacts of natural disasters’ devastation as well as the realities of COVID-19, International Medical Corps is integrating COVID-19 prevention messaging into the distribution relief supplies and hygiene materials. This not only prevents the spread of disease and keep families healthy as a result of natural disaster, but also support the ongoing pandemic response.

Dr. Nelsie, Municipal Health Officer of Balangkayan, Eastern Samar, states,
“Thank you for the generous support to our communities, who continue to need access to safe water, as well as hygiene supplies. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, we believe it will be even more helpful to the families affected by Typhoon Ursula [Phanfone].”

We thank the GlobalGiving community of donors for bringing awareness and support to International Medical Corps’ relief and recovery efforts in the Philippines.

Hygiene supplies distributed to affected families.
Hygiene supplies distributed to affected families.
Jul 17, 2020

DRC Confirms New Ebola Outbreak

Our team with the outbreak's first survivor
Our team with the outbreak's first survivor

On June 1, 2020, hopes of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) being declared Ebola-free were shattered once again.

Just three weeks before the 10th outbreak in the northeast was declared over and the entire DRC could be declared Ebola-free, a new outbreak was identified. The Congolese National Institute of Biomedical Research confirmed a cluster of deaths in Mbandaka, a city in northwestern DRC’s Equateur province, was the result of this new Ebola outbreak – the 11th in the DRC. As of July 16, the number of cases had risen to 56, including 53 confirmed and three suspected, with 21 deaths.

International Medical Corps deployed a Rapid Response Team to Mbandaka. Our team has been aiding communities since June 2 – just 24 hours after the government announced the new outbreak. We are providing case management services, the only partner to do so in the entire province. Our 20-bed Ebola Treatment Center serves Wangata and Mbandaka, two of the five affected health zones.

A quick end to this new outbreak may prove difficult. Challenges such as lack of access to healthcare, community resistance and few partners on the ground supporting the response explain why cases are rising exponentially. But the timing also poses a unique challenge.

Paula Olson, Response Manager for West, Central, Southern Africa at International Medical Corps, explains that, “This new outbreak in the northwestern part of the country comes at a time of tremendous concern over the spread of COVID-19 and its potential impact on the country from a public health perspective as well as economically.”

The DRC is simultaneously struggling to slow the spread of COVID-19. According to Olson, “The DRC has been highly susceptible to the spread of communicable diseases over the past year due to gaps within the health system. It is therefore important for our teams not only to address the most urgent needs, but also to help prevent future outbreaks.”

One way to mitigate the impact of future outbreaks is through training. In the wake of the 2018 Equateur province Ebola outbreak, International Medical Corps provided critical infection prevention and control training to 516 health in six health zones—Bikoro, Ikobo, Wangata, Mbandaka, Ntondo and Bolenge. The new outbreak currently impacts four of these same health zones but thanks to our training, the health staff are better equipped today than they were in 2018 to protect themselves from Ebola transmission and keep their facilities safe.

International Medical Corps thanks the GlobalGiving community for its critical support as we respond to the DRC’s newest Ebola outbreak.

Jul 6, 2020

Rebuilding Paradise

Mcleans Town destroyed after Hurricane Dorian
Mcleans Town destroyed after Hurricane Dorian

William always believed his home of McLeans Town was paradise. “We lived here and we couldn’t believe how beautiful it was,” William says, reflecting on the small community on the northwest corner of Grand Bahama island. The image that William describes, one of soft sand being gently tugged by ocean waves on a backdrop of a cloudless sky, seems negligible in the face of Hurricane Dorian’s complete devastation. The Category 5 storm hit the Bahamas with winds of 185 mph, gusts up to 220 mph, and storm surges reaching 23 feet. Like most residents, William fled town before the September 1st storm, but he came back to survey the damage done to his home and his community. The town William returned to was not the one he remembered; instead McLeans Town bares the wrath of Dorian. The towering trees are scoured on the floor or on top of crumbling homes. There is a thick layer of oil from destroyed storage tanks covering miles of plants and animals. And then there is William and his fellow Bahamians, all trying to sort through the rubble for memories, resources, and most of all looking for those who may still be trapped underneath all of the wreckage.

Mcleans Town is not alone in their devastation. According to the Government of the Bahamas, the hurricane affected more than 76,000 people especially in Abaco and Grand Bahama. International Medical Corps moved quickly in light of the emergency, and with the help of GlobalGiving, has been able to provide access to healthcare, safe water, improved hygiene, and mental health support to the most devastated areas.

Within 72 hours, International Medical Corps had set up an emergency medical facility in High Rock, an eastern part of Grand Bahama island. The previous clinic, which was destroyed in the storm, served more than 3,000 people. Along with deploying 100 doctors, staff and nurses to provide patient consolations, International Medical Corps has also delivered 15,200lbs of medication and equipment which have been used to restock pharmacies and fill critical gaps in medication. International Medical Corps recognizes not only the physical toll of the hurricane, but also the mental distress. In order to meet the needs of residents experiencing a wide range of psychosocial needs International Medical Corps has provided some 1,000 people with mental health and psychosocial support services and raised awareness for about 11,280 people on self-care.

Hurricane Dorian’s devastation has shaken every aspect of Bahamian life. Despite coping with their new, warped reality, William and his community are hopeful they will see paradise again. “Come back and you’ll see…” he says, surveying the damage with a cracked smile. “We’ll rebuild.”

International Medical Corps thanks GlobalGiving and other donors for their critical support as we continue to respond to the Hurricane Dorian crisis. Today, we not only address the recovery needs following the storm, but also the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Bahamas.

Our team tending to William's injury
Our team tending to William's injury
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