Regional Response: East

To increase efficiency of operations and speed of response, as well as deliver more effective programs and services for the communities we serve, International Medical Corps organizes its international programs by regions, with each region supported by an interdisciplinary team. The East Region includes countries in north and east Africa, Asia and Europe: Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Libya, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Ukraine.



International Medical Corps continues to implement programs in 12 of the country’s 34 provinces, with a focus on gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response. To mitigate the dangers of COVID-19 infection, we continue to distribute soap free of charge in communities that we serve, and stress the importance of handwashing in preventing the spread of the virus. Our GBV mobile services remain operational in all field sites, as we collaborate and coordinate with external groups specializing in GBV issues during the pandemic. These groups include the GBV subcluster of the UN’s Afghanistan Protection Cluster and UN’s Gender in Humanitarian Action (GiHA) Working Group on COVID-19-related issues, to update mapping of GBV services. We are also participating in discussions to ensure that the interests of other vulnerable female groups (such as elderly and disabled women) are included in the wider response to GBV amid the challenges presented by COVID-19. We continue to provide phone-based case management and counseling to GBV survivors when appropriate and safe, and are using infection prevention and control (IPC) measures at all service centers. Arrangements to minimize the risk of infection include schooling far-smaller groups, maintaining social distancing during sessions and ensuring access to handwashing for all participants at all meeting points arranged by our mobile teams.



The country team continues to participate in national- and local-level COVID-19 coordination meetings with different bodies, including government agencies and other implementing partners. During the second half of May, our team screened 2,337 patients for the virus at International Medical Corps-supported facilities, bringing the total number of patients screened since we began we began the process in mid-April to 7,250. We have also directly reached more than 3,360 community residents through COVID-19 awareness-raising activities, and more than 14,100 indirectly through banners, posters, flyers and radio messages. We have provided training to 74 frontline staff from International Medical Corps, our partners and Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and host-community health workers. The training has focused on COVID-19 awareness, how to identify symptoms of the disease, the proper use and handling of personal protection equipment (PPE), case management and psychological first aid (PFA). We have also employed a full-time epidemiologist for two months to support the Ethiopia Public Health Institute Emergency Operation Center in Addis Ababa twice a week. Our team in the town of Dollo, in southeastern Ethiopia near the country’s border with Somalia, is screening refugee traffic at the Dollo Ado reception center for evidence of fever.



International Medical Corps in Libya mobilized quickly to address the threat posed by COVID-19, training rapid response teams working for the country’s National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) about the virus and its symptoms; its prevention, transmission and treatment; how to conduct contact tracing; and how to use PPE. International Medical Corps was the first international NGO operating in the country to support the NCDC by donating PPE for its rapid response teams. We are also training health staff in all of our supported facilities on how to respond to suspected cases of COVID-19, as well as providing supplies of necessary PPE. We have a newly trained team of mental health counselors who are supporting our primary healthcare teams in three field locations, in addition to preparing culturally appropriate COVID-19 messages for an online awareness-raising campaign on a country-specific COVID-19 Facebook page. We have also adjusted our GBV programs, switching to a remote case management strategy that ensures survivors can still access our services during restrictions on movement outside the home. Finally, we are training social workers from the Libyan Ministry of Social Affairs about the heightened risks of GBV that can occur as restrictions on movement tighten and curfews force more survivors to spend prolonged periods inside their homes with their abusers.



International Medical Corps is at the forefront of the COVID-19 response in Pakistan. A local FM radio station in the country’s northwestern province of Pakhtunkhwa has started broadcasting short messages that we have developed and translated into the local Pashtu language, to heighten community engagement and awareness of COVID-19 risks. On May 8, Pakhtunkhwa’s FM radio began broadcasting ten 30-second spots per day, for 60 days, reaching residents of Pakistani communities living in several districts of the province, as well as seven villages of Afghan refugees, and on June 3, extended the reach of the radio messages to include two additional districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Our doctors and community health workers have continued to offer essential sexual and reproductive health care to women and girls in need of urgent care, operating from five public healthcare facilities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Similarly, counsellors and GBV case managers located in five districts of the province are providing mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and GBV case management and referral services to those in dire need during the current lockdown, helping to meet the increasing caseload of MHPSS and GBV cases due to evolving COVID-19 conditions.



International Medical Corps began work related to COVID-19 in early March, when our team began supporting Manila Health Department efforts to protect the central city area’s 1.8 million people from the virus. For example, we provided the department with additional transportation for suspected COVID-19 patients to local health facilities for testing and consultation. Since March, our team has also provided a training-of-trainers course for health facility management staff on emerging infectious diseases, and installed triage tents where clinicians can screen for COVID-19 symptoms all who enter and exit Manila’s large Santa Ana Hospital—the city’s designated infectious disease center. To help protect healthcare workers, we have provided full PPE sets as well as more than a half-million separate PPE items, including surgical masks, gowns and goggles. We have provided transportation for staff and patients at Santa Ana since the government declared a stay-at-home order on March 15, and have helped support measles immunizations carried out by the department in two Manilla neighborhoods. We have provided PPE—including 150 gowns, 150 pairs of gloves and 15 face shields—to the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Unit of the Manila Health Department, which plans to use the equipment while providing measles immunization and other MCH services at the community level. And following reports of COVID-19 infections among staff working at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, we provided 200 KN95 masks to the facility.



In Somalia, International Medical Corps is coordinating its response to COVID-19 through the Ministry of Health at both the federal and regional government levels, and is a member of the Inter-Agency Risk Communication and Community Engagement Taskforce. In Galkacyo South—a regional center about 500 miles northwest of Mogadishu—we are working with authorities to equip and supply an isolation ward to receive COVID-19 patients at the main hospital. We are currently doing extensive rehabilitation and construction of additional rooms and toilets in Galkacyo South Hospital, to help it meet required standards as a COVID-19 facility. We have also donated PPE to the Somali humanitarian group Jowhar INTERSOS, the Federal Ministry of Health in Mogadishu and COVID-19 isolation centers. In addition, we have trained more than 600 staff on IPC measures and the recognition of COVID-19 symptoms, helping them understand how the virus spreads and how to use PPE. Our GBV team has conducted focus group discussions with women and girls across our four operational areas and collected information on what they know about COVID-19, how they receive information and their main concerns about the virus. International Medical Corps facilities in four of Somalia’s 18 regions continue to screen beneficiaries for signs of the virus, a step we implemented after Somalia’s first case was confirmed on March 16. As of June 3, we had screened 25,844 people. And to help with messaging, we have posted materials in the Somali language about COVID-19 at all our offices and in health facility waiting areas.


South Sudan

International Medical Corps continues to help lead the pandemic response in South Sudan, serving as co-lead of the country’s COVID-19 Case Management and IPC Taskforce. Our country director also has joined the South Sudan NGO Forum Steering Committee as an advisory member to assist the group with advocacy, planning, and preparedness. With support from the World Health Organization, we are managing the expansion of the Juba Infectious Disease Unit (IDU) to include 75 new beds. USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has also committed to provide additional funding to support expanded operations of the facility during the pandemic. In a positive milestone, on May 4 we discharged from the IDU our first patient who had recovered from COVID-19. In other areas, we are screening all entrants to protection-of-civilian (PoC) camps in Juba and Malakal, and have begun initial screening at the PoC camp in Wau. In addition, we have put in place an adapted triaging system at the POCs to pre-sort patients symptomatically to reduce transmission in the wards. We have trained all healthcare workers in Juba, Malakal and Wau on COVID-related treatment and prevention protocols, and have distributed supplies of PPE to our healthcare teams there. The team is currently presenting plans to relevant donors and UN agencies for potential establishment of dedicated COVID-related supportive care facilities at the POC sites in Juba and Wau. With infection rates increasing across the country, there is a renewed sense of prioritization in the sector on the Case Management pillar of the response. Finally, we met with the French ambassador to South Sudan to discuss the country’s generous offer of two portable ventilator units to help support our COVID-related medical interventions at the Juba Infectious Disease Unit.



Our Sudan team works mainly in the Darfur Region, as well as in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where our COVID-19-related response has included training of both office-based and clinical staff about the virus, its symptoms and behavior, and essential IPC measures, including the importance of PPE for all staff. Our sites at Umdukun, near Darfur’s western border with Chad, as well as Jebel Mara to the east, have established local-level Emergency Preparedness and Planning committees that conduct weekly meetings. We recently held a coordination meeting with Ministry of Health and WHO representatives focusing on the statewide COVID response. International Medical Corps is providing support for COVID-related activities at both state and local levels. For example, we recently completed training on COVID-19 in three localities for health workers, covering case definitions, triage, case isolation and management, and the proper use of PPE. We have also engaged in awareness-raising efforts, including the printing and distribution of fliers and COVID-related banners through the State Ministry of Health on health education, as well as IPC guidelines. We have helped create radio dramas featuring COVID-19 themes that are broadcast four times a week. In addition, our experts are invited to the radio station every week to provide key COVID-19 related messages to the community. Finally, we have purchased and distributed hygiene supplies through the Ministry of Health.



International Medical Corps is continuing to provide MHPSS-related training and counseling services in Ukraine, both directly and in coordination with local partners, through remote means that include telephone and online groups. The team also has delivered printed booklets to its different field sites, enabling those without tablets and smartphones—including older people, who are more vulnerable to the virus—to participate. International Medical Corps and the MHPSS Technical Working group also participated in the translation to Ukrainian of How Kids Can Fight COVID-19, a story book for children published by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee. We have launched a health program aimed at equipping 10 healthcare clinics with handwashing stations, IPC training and hygiene promotion for the communities accessing the health centers. We are also working with health facility cleaners to improve their understanding of how to mitigate the spread of disease.

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