Since its inception, one priority has set International Medical Corps apart from other relief groups: its emphasis on strengthening capacity. Our worldwide humanitarian efforts are defined by the intense commitment to give disaster-stricken communities the strength and skills to meet their own primary health care needs. We do this by making education and training an integral part of our programs, whether it is primary health care, HIV/AIDS and infectious disease, nutrition and agriculture, water and sanitation, or livelihoods and microfinance. We also work closely with host government agencies and partner with local non-government organizations to strengthen the health care infrastructure at all levels. Our focus on strengthening capacity not only fosters self-reliance, but it also builds the kind of confidence, pride, and self-esteem essential for political stability and successful development.
Recently, along an arc of suffering that spans much of central and south central Africa, we taught skills that saved lives and raised hope of a better future:
- by training village-based traditional birth attendants in Democratic Republic of Congo, to first identify early complications in pregnancy, then when and how to refer them for higher level care;
- by leveraging a generous donation of high-tech medical equipment including x-ray machines, ultrasounds, electrocardiographs, fetal monitors, and more, International Medical Corps is training health workers to use and maintain this equipment which in turn will strengthen health care capacity and infrastructure in Darfur;
- by placing traditional birth attendants in eastern Chad together with trained midwives to improve the number of safe deliveries, then linking the birth attendants to International Medical Corps-trained mid-level health professionals to assure the availability of emergency obstetric care if needed;
- and by opening the first midwife and nurse training school in Southern Sudan, a region plagued with a chronic shortage of skilled health workers.
- Facing a far different, yet equally demanding challenge in the Middle East, we combined face-to-face teaching with distance learning and telemedicine to build a Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development program for 2,600 Iraqi physicians and surgeons nationally that improved patient outcomes, helped keep physicians in the country, and strengthened the health system itself.