Darfur, A Decade of Crisis
Ten years ago, conflict broke out in the Darfur region of Sudan resulting in more than 300,000 lives lost and millions forced to flee for safety. The humanitarian crisis disrupted already fragile health care systems and prevented families from returning to their homes and livelihoods. Since 2004, International Medical Corps has worked through challenging conditions in Darfur to provide essential medical care, implement nutrition programs, restore water delivery and sanitation systems and provide support to the Ministry of Health through health system strengthening activities. By emphasizing training in health care delivery, we give communities the tools to move from relief towards self-reliance, and to rebuild their futures.
NUTRITION: International Medical Corps provides nutritional support to the populations most vulnerable to hunger in Darfur. At our clinics and through home visits, medical and community health workers screen and treat children under five, as well as pregnant women and new mothers, for malnutrition. International Medical Corps operates eight outpatient therapeutic feeding programs and four supplementary feeding programs in West and South Darfur. To prevent malnutrition in children under two and pregnant and nursing women, International Medical Corps is implementing a comprehensive social behavior change communication (BCC) approach through care groups. Each care group is composed of 10-15 mothers (or other caretakers) of children under 2 or pregnant and nursing women and one lead mother. Each site also has one female community mobilizer who is responsible for providing BCC regarding essential nutrition actions (exclusive breast feeding, supplementary feeding and timing, micronutrients supplementation etc.) and prevention of malnutrition and waterborne diseases; demonstrating proper food preparation and cooking; and training lead mothers on essential nutrition actions and malnutrition-related diseases. These programs help families avoid the lasting health and developmental impacts of hunger.
TRAINING: In Darfur, International Medical Corps has piloted a non-cash incentive approach aimed at increasing the number of babies delivered at health facilities through traditional birth attendants (TBAs) as referral agents. TBAs traditionally provide basic health care, support and advice during and after pregnancy and childbirth, based primarily on experience and knowledge acquired informally through local traditions and practice. They usually work in rural, remote and other medically underserved areas. TBAs may not receive formal education and training in health care provision. International Medical Corps trains TBAs in Darfur on how to refer pregnant women to health facilities for antenatal and postnatal care as well as for deliveries which greatly reduces the rates of maternal and newborn deaths during and after childbirth. Based on their performance, we provide non-cash incentives for the TBAs such as soap and sugar. Since International Medical Corps started this program in July 2011, more than 9,000 women have been referred to our health facilities by TBAs.
HEALTH: In September 2012, there was a large-scale outbreak of yellow fever in Darfur with 34 localities out of 64 affected. Between September 2 and December 19, the total number of suspected yellow fever cases reached 836, including 168 deaths (case fatality rate of 20.1%). International Medical Corps has mobilized resources to avert the epidemic through integrated vector control activities and training of staff on case management of yellow fever; methods of transmission; transmission prevention; signs and symptoms; and the surveillance system. We are also supporting the Ministry of Health in conducting yellow fever vaccinations in Central, South and West Darfur.