Primary Health Care and HIV/AIDS Services and Prevention
International Medical Corps began implementing projects in Burundi in 1995 soon after the start of the country's decade-long war. Working alongside government authorities as part of its emergency response, we provide basic health services to people affected by the conflict and those most vulnerable including those affected by HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS activities have always been components of International Medical Corps' health interventions, and in 2006 we implemented a two-year HIV/AIDS project to expand counseling and testing and other prevention methods and treatment services. Through our support, more than 6,000 individuals were tested for HIV. We also supported the integration of prevention of mother-to-children transmission (PMTCT) of HIV practices in the clinic and supported treatment for opportunistic infections in health facilities.
In 2008 International Medical Corps began a multi-year program with Catholic Relief Services that supports HIV-affected households with food assistance. In addition to training volunteer community-based health activists in HIV/AIDS care and support, International Medical Corps will collaborate with the Ministry of Health and Catholic Relief Services to build a safety net for food insecure, HIV-affected households so that they have a sufficient amount of nutritious foods. People living with HIV/AIDS and HIV-affected households are often more vulnerable to food insecurity in the short and long-term than other poor households as they are often more acutely affected by losses of physical productivity, drops in income, and other household shocks. Those who are receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment are receiving food rations, and weakened patients learn labor-saving farming techniques.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Reproductive Health and GBV Services and Education
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), International Medical Corps provides counseling and testing services at referral health centers and hospitals and integrates PMTCT with pre-pregnancy care, antenatal care, labor, delivery, infant feeding and support, and screens for STIs, TB, and other opportunistic infections. We address the nutrition needs of people living with HIV/AIDS by implementing health and nutrition education sessions and positive living skills including hygiene and sanitation education, maternal nutrition, and safe infant and young child feeding practices related to PMTCT. We have also initiated a referral system for ARV treatment and follow-up care. In Eastern DRC we provide sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) services including post-exposure prophylaxis up to 72 hours after possible HIV exposure and the provision of tools for STI, pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS prevention to SGBV patients. We conduct safe motherhood training in the management of STIs especially among rape survivors. We also assist program participants who require psychosocial support due to SGBV.
To meet the needs of returning refugees and displaced populations in Eastern DRC, we are integrating HIV/AIDS programming, including PMTCT, and ARV treatment services, into referral health centers and hospitals in the South Kivu Province. International Medical Corps works closely with the health district offices and community-based organizations/community health workers to implement HIV prevention programs and increase SGBV health sensitization. We also conducted behavior change communication and mass communication activities on HIV/AIDS and SGBV for more than 8,000 participants.
HIV/AIDS and TB Prevention, Services and Counseling
In Kenya our current work ranges from HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs to water and sanitation programs and other emergency work. We focus on developing local capacity and directly implementing services to provide quality HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment programs, especially for hard-to-reach populations. PEPFAR funds have enabled International Medical Corps to expand confidential counseling and testing programs, strengthen PMTCT efforts, and improve the care and treatment of those infected by both HIV/AIDS and TB. As part of a five-year program to support Government of Kenya efforts to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS, we work in Nyanza near Lake Victoria to mentor local health providers and strengthen the linkage between communities and service provision. We have introduced home-based counseling and testing for HIV, a step that extends the traditional clinic-based HIV counseling and testing services into communities using trained volunteers who visit individual homes. This innovation increases the number of people seeking and receiving counseling and testing, allowing us to scale-up quickly. We also provide care and support for our HIV positive clients, linking them with community-based palliative care services. In 2008 our HIV/AIDS programming expanded to include SGBV, clinical care, and community mobilization for medical circumcision, as well as provider-initiated testing and counseling for HIV/AIDS. Finally, we provide integrated TB/HIV management in all government health facilities, ensuring early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
HIV/AIDS Programs and Health Capacity Building in Conflict-Affected Region
In South Sudan International Medical Corps has implemented a number of successful HIV/AIDS programs for people affected by current and past conflicts in and around their country. As the Government of South Sudan and its ministries grow, International Medical Corps is working to strengthen their capacity and build self-reliance. In addition to providing support and on-the-job trainings for Ministry of Health and local health staff in clinics and hospitals, International Medical Corps is training cadres of mid-level health professionals to serve in their communities as midwives and nurses. International Medical Corps' community-based approaches raise awareness of HIV' impact and how it can be minimized or prevented through behavior change and modification. As one of the implementing agencies in Phase I of the Sudan Health Transformation Project, International Medical Corps provides a number of services to improve the lives of south Sudanese; these activities include the provision of ARV services, counseling, testing, and PMTCT of HIV and HIV care services, in addition to increasing the local capacity to combat HIV/AIDS. Working together with the CDC we have also monitored the impact of HIV/AIDS on sleeping sickness in Southern Sudan.