Provide medical care to Haiti

by International Medical Corps
Nurse Marie-Anne
Nurse Marie-Anne

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in Haiti and the leading cause of cancer death in Haitian women, with an estimated 1,500 deaths annually. In fact, Haiti has the highest reported incidence of cervical cancer of any country in the world, with 94 cases per 100,000 women—50 times higher than the rate in the United States. This disease is preventable, but women in Haiti have not benefited from Pap test screening due to a lack of trained pathologists and a poor healthcare infrastructure. There is no radiation therapy and limited chemotherapy available, and surgical interventions do not meet current standards of care. The result is that 90% of Haitians have no access to cancer treatment. The remaining 10%, i.e., those who can afford it, go to places like neighboring Havana or Miami for their care.

In developing economies like Haiti’s, the WHO recommends using Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) or Visual Inspection with Lugol's Iodine (VILI), followed by cryotherapy if suspicious cervical lesions are visible, also known as the low-cost “see and treat” method. Not only can VIA detect early dysplastic, or precancerous lesions, it also has the advantage that the procedure can be performed by nurses, with treatment offered the same day. VIA has been successfully introduced into many developing countries with great success—including by International Medical Corps in 11 health facilities in Kenya currently, in close partnership with CureCervicalCancer (CCC) and generous donors.

International Medical Corps Nurse Marie-Anne is one of the nurses in Haiti who has become certified in “see and treat.” She is a young, passionate and hardworking woman who grew up and works in Cap-Haitien, the center of International Medial Corps operations. Anne mentioned that when she was young, she was not interested in health care and nursing. She only developed her passion for this work after she moved to Port-au-Prince and finished high school. She now dedicates her career to caring for every patient with kindness and compassion.

Anne is the current Cervical Cancer Program Director for International Medical Corps in Haiti and does tremendous work to ensure the program’s success. Our ultimate goal in this Haiti program is to educate and train dedicated and competent local healthcare professionals, so that they become trainers themselves to expand the “see and treat” method. This train-the-trainer model allows International Medical Corps to expand its reach and save the lives of thousands of women who would have otherwise died from a fatal, pervasive and preventable disease. In early summer, in partnership with CCC, Anne led cervical cancer screening and treatment training for healthcare professionals from various hospitals and clinics in north and north-west Haiti.

This program—and Marie-Anne’s competence—is an excellent example of International Medical Corps’ mission to save lives and implement sustainable programs.

It is with the help of GlobalGiving and other donors that we are able to continue these life-saving programs and deliver necessary care to Haitian women and their families. Thank you so much for your continued support.

Preparing to disinfect home of a cholera patient
Preparing to disinfect home of a cholera patient

Currently, International Medical Corps is operational in the North of Haiti. Our main office is in Cap Haitien and we have a sub-office in Fort Liberté, allowing us to work in two of the three departments in the North of Haiti.

June and July 2015  have been very rewarding months for International Medical Corps’ two programs in northern Haiti. First, we are fighting cholera outbreaks, an ongoing problem that first emerged a few months after the 2010 earthquake. According to the World Health Organization, cholera can kill within hours if left untreated, but with proper care the mortality is under 1%. International Medical Corps staff therefore recently trained 90 health professionals on cholera case management. In addition, when a cholera victim is identified, we disinfect homes and provide education for remote affected communities on prevention. As cholera is caused by contaminated water, we reduce its risk by building sanitary infrastructure, including clean water sources, latrines, showers, foot baths and hand-washing stations, as well as building kitchens with clean water in local schools.

International Medical Corps has also repaired and built new cholera beds, and has been advocating for infant cholera beds. These are specifically designed to accommodate the needs of cholera patients. They are typically easy to maintain, promoting hygiene and allowing for ease of access to bed pans. International Medical Corps’ approach to cholera case management is therefore holistic and very well known in the North and North East Departments of Haiti. Fighting cholera in Haiti is as critical as ever as during the first four months of 2015, the number of reported cholera cases was nearly 400% higher than what was reported during the same period in 2014.

We have recently kicked off our new cervical cancer program, one of the few cancers that can be prevented if caught early. International Medical Corps trained and equipped 22 doctors and nurses so they can screen for early cervical cancer by using a low-cost and effective screening technique known as Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA). Women who test positive receive cryotherapy treatment on the spot using the “see and treat” method recommended by the World Health Organization. We have also trained community health workers to educate local women on the benefits of the screening. During the summer of 2015, International Medical Corps will screen 1,800 women in 11 government-supported health facilities and provide the training curriculum to local nursing schools.

International Medical Corps’ critically needed work in the affected communities of Northern Haiti has been possible thanks to the support of GlobalGiving and other donors. It is truly making a difference in the lives of those who need it most.

Flood walls built to prevent flooding
Flood walls built to prevent flooding
Initial earthquake damage
Initial earthquake damage

Five-years after the 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti, International Medical Corps’ teams are still on the ground delivering vital health care and training services to help disaster-affected communities return to self-reliance.

Earthquake Response

At the peak of International Medical Corps’ emergency response following the earthquake, our volunteer doctors and nurses saw as many as 1,000 patients a day while simultaneously training Haitian counterparts. We were able to mobilize more than 400 medical volunteers across the United States, including emergency room, intensive care, and pediatric doctors and nurses as well as mental health experts and infectious disease specialists. Within two weeks, we had established 13 primary health clinics in displacement camps and earthquake-affected areas throughout Haiti and provided some 350,000 medical consultations.

In keeping with our mission to promote self-reliance through training, over the past five years International Medical Corps has trained Haitian medical and technical professionals  in order to build capacity for the long term, and operated vital programs in nutrition, mental health, water, sanitation and hygiene. We also launched a Continuing Medical Education (CME) program in Haiti. In the fall of 2010, we completed our first CME program with the Haitian Medical Association and brought together Haitian physicians to focus on emergency obstetrics as well as medical certification and board accreditation. We also ran an emergency medicine development program at Port-au-Prince's General Hospital (HUEH) that trained more than 300 Haitian physicians and nurses in nearly every component of emergency care delivery. We are currently implementing additional CME courses in Haiti to improve quality of care throughout the existing healthcare infrastructure.

Cholera Outbreak

International Medical Corps was one of the very first organizations to respond to an unprecedented cholera outbreak in October 2010 and had medical staff on the ground in Artibonite (where the first cases developed) even before the cause of the outbreak was confirmed to be cholera. We aggressively rolled out a network of cholera treatment centers (CTCs) and mobile medical units in Haiti’s most remote and affected areas to care for tens of thousands of cholera patients. Because cholera was a new disease in Haiti, the majority of the country’s health workers had never seen it before the outbreak. International Medical Corps made sure that the Ministry of Health and local doctors, nurses, and community health workers remained central to our cholera response. We trained and mentored more than 1,200 doctors, nurses, and community health workers so that our network of CTCs were established and staffed largely by local health professionals. We also distributed more than 765,000 hygiene and sanitation materials and educated more than 2 million Haitians on cholera prevention.

Haiti Today

According to the ACAPS Global Emergency Overview Snapshot for 17 December 2014 to 6 January 2015, “Over 500,000 people still have no permanent shelter, living in camps with limited access to clean water. The cholera outbreak that began in October 2010 continues to claim lives, particularly of those most vulnerable: children under five, pregnant women, and the elderly. Haiti’s political and economic situation is extremely fragile, and the country is vulnerable to natural disasters, including hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, landslides, and droughts. Despite a progressive decrease of cholera cases since January, weekly cases have significantly increased since the rainy season mid-September (PAHO, 02/12/2014).”

International Medical Corps’ local teams are continuing to provide critical medical care in Haiti today. We are responding to cholera in the “Grand North” through community outreach and six mobile medical units that are able to reach vulnerable families. International Medical Corps has also responded to localized flooding in the North and continues to monitor humanitarian needs. It is with the generous support of GlobalGiving and other donors that we are able to continue to make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable families and communities in Haiti.

Initial earthquake damage
Initial earthquake damage
Mobile medical unit
Mobile medical unit
Emergency shelters
Emergency shelters

When the 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, our First Responders arrived within just 22 hours to deliver emergency medical care. Five years have now passed since large parts of the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns and cities were reduced to rubble and over 230,000 Haitians lost their lives. With the help of International Medical Corps, other international relief agencies and the efforts of the Haitian people, many thousands of lives were saved and livelihoods restored. However an unprecedented cholera outbreak and the ongoing threat of hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, continue to threaten already vulnerable communities. Our teams are still on the ground in Haiti today, providing vital health care and training services.

Five-year-old Monley was pulled from the rubble of the Haiti earthquake after being trapped for an astonishing 8 days. As most of the world was losing those final glimmers of hope that survivors of the earthquake in Haiti could still be rescued, Monley’s uncle, Garry, uncovered him from under the collapsed home that had killed Monley’s parents. As Garry rushed into the street with the limp, dirt-covered boy in his arms, International Medical Corps’ Dr. Neil Joyce, was driving by. They put Monley in the car, gave him electrolytes, and rushed him to our doctors and nurses at Hopital de l’Universite d’Etat d’Haiti in downtown Port-au-Prince.

In the days and months that followed, Monley received intravenous fluids and further care from our team to get him back to health – he made an immediate connection with our volunteer nurse Gaby McAdoo. As he regained his strength and slowly returned to normal, we knew we had witnessed a near miracle.

Today, Monley is in very good health and is still being cared for by his Uncle Garry. Nurse Gaby had the pleasure of spending time with Monley in Miami where he was visiting his grandmother over the summer. Although Monley has a lot on his little shoulders, coping with the ordeal of losing his parents and home, he is safe, back in school and growing up with his siblings and cousins in his Uncle Garry’s home in Haiti.

Garry says, "Monley is doing well and he always has good grades at school. He likes to play with his friends. Monley always has nightmares and talking during his sleep. He likes to look at his mom's and dad's photos.”

At the peak of International Medical Corps’ emergency response after the earthquake, our volunteer doctors and nurses saw as many as 1,000 patients a day while simultaneously training Haitian counterparts. Within two weeks, we established 13 primary health clinics in displacement camps and earthquake-affected areas throughout Haiti providing some 350,000 medical consultations. We also mobilized more than 400 medical volunteers across the United States, including emergency room, intensive care, and pediatric doctors and nurses as well as mental health experts and infectious disease specialists. Over the last five years, we trained Haitians in order to build capacity for the long-term and operated vital programs in nutrition, mental health care, water, sanitation and hygiene. In keeping with our mission to promote self-reliance through training, International Medical Corps also launched a Continuing Medical Education program in Haiti. It is with the help of Global Giving and other donors that we are able to assist the vast number of people such as Monley who have been affected by this disaster and will be able to continue doing so in the future.

Cervical cancer screening and treatment training
Cervical cancer screening and treatment training

International Medical Corps will mark its fifth anniversary in Haiti in January of 2015. For much of that time, our efforts were oriented toward the provision of Health care for those suffering from the January 2010 earthquake and then, soon after in October of 2010, for those who became victims of the Cholera epidemic.

Most recently, International Medical Corps has focused on providing services to families in the North and Northeast regions due to the vulnerability of the communities there and the relatively few available health care services. In the last six months, International Medical Corps has treated 213 victims of Cholera, decontaminated 293 latrines, decontaminated 184 homes, and provided awareness messages and water purification tablets to over 351,988 vulnerable citizens. International Medical Corps has carried out these activities through its mobile clinic teams, which are active 24/7 as Cholera outbreaks demand throughout the North and Northeast regions. Our efforts and those of our partners have contributed to an overall reduction in fatalities due to Cholera of 70% over the last year.

To further augment our health care services and provide urgently-needed care to communities in Haiti, International Medical Corps partnered with the California-based nonprofit 'Cure Cervical Cancer' in September and were able to screen 158 women for cervical cancer and treat 27 positive cases with cryotherapy, in addition to training more than a dozen doctors and nurses on the intervention. With funds from Global Giving supporters and other donors, International Medical Corps aims to repeat this training and screening in Haiti health clinics at least four times per year.


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Organization Information

International Medical Corps

Location: Los Angeles, CA - USA
Website: https:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Los Angeles, CA United States
$245,994 raised of $250,000 goal
2,893 donations
$4,006 to go
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