CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
Response in Middle East

 

Gaza

We are supporting multiple local service providers, including three hospitals, 10 community-based health teams and two primary healthcare providers. International Medical Corps is providing essential health services, distributing hygiene kits to underserved households and raising awareness about multiple topics, including COVID-19. Through our partner facilities, our team has screened 17,744 people for COVID-19 symptoms and reached 157,205 people with health messaging on multiple topics. The Gaza team has also provided infection prevention and control (IPC) training to 56 health and non-health workers. International Medical Corps provided hygiene kits to 310 underserved households and plans to target another 300 households in the next few months. In addition, we conducted a vaccination hesitancy survey and are developing educational materials about COVID prevention.

 

Iraq

The team is providing frontline health workers with PPE, ensuring their safety as they continue to deliver primary healthcare services to IDPs and host populations in camp and non-camp settings across the country. We distributed 1,554,456 PPE and IPC items to International Medical Corps-supported centers, safe spaces for women and girls, and camps. In camps in Ninewah and Anbar provinces, our medical teams are continuously monitoring new arrivals and isolated suspected COVID-19 patients in designated quarantine areas. So far, 24 facilities that International Medical Corps supports have screened more than 482,630 people for COVID-19 symptoms. Additionally, the team has conducted more than 86 training sessions—both in-person and virtually—for 1,637 participants. The community outreach team is using in-person sessions, social media and radio broadcasting to raise awareness about the risks of COVID-19 and how to prevent transmission, reaching 705,658 people. Our team also conducted surveys to measure COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in selected communities. Based on the results, our community outreach teams have designed educational messages to debunk common myths and misconceptions about the vaccine and to create more vaccine demand. To improve the well-being of those affected by the pandemic, our mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) team conducts case management and follow-up, including awareness about coping with stress. To reach as wide an audience as possible, our MHPSS teams use social media platforms to disseminate key messages. With the increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV) for women and girls who may be confined at home with abusers, the women and girls’ safe spaces in the camps that we support in Mosul have remained open, with physical distancing and hygiene measures in place to help prevent transmission of COVID-19. GBV case management also is being provided remotely via phones or WhatsApp to survivors who consent to such follow-ups.

 

Jordan

International Medical Corps’ team in Jordan is playing a central role in coordinating vaccination efforts now underway in Azraq and Zaatari refugee camps. Since 2021, International Medical Corps has trained 138 people on COVID-19 vaccination protocols and, since the rollout of the campaign, has supported the delivery of 87,631 vaccine doses in Azraq and Zaatari camps, including a booster-shot campaign that began in December 2021. Within the same camps, International Medical Corps has carried out 166,199 PCR tests for COVID. Despite the pandemic, we continue to provide all other health services in Azraq and Zaatari, as well as in Irbid, with non-lifesaving services—including outpatient sexual and reproductive health—resumed to full capacity. In Azraq itself, International Medical Corps is providing a range of COVID-19-related services to an estimated 40,000 residents. Since March 2020, we have distributed 2,710,203 PPE and IPC items to staff and the people we serve at International Medical Corps facilities. International Medical Corps also has established a 50-patient isolation area and has created an area where immediate treatment can be provided to suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases. In addition, our health team in the camp continues to provide awareness sessions on COVID-19 to residents, reaching more than 191,442 residents of the surrounding community, as well as NGO and security staff. Working with the Ministry of Health and the Jordanian Psychiatrist Society, our mental health team has established a 24/7 psychosocial support hotline in Jordan to respond to growing mental health needs caused by COVID-19. As curfew restrictions now have been lifted in the country, our team in Jordan has resumed in-person mental health consultations, as well as child protection and nutrition services for refugees and vulnerable Jordanians. However, we continue to conduct all group psychosocial-support activities remotely, in accordance with government regulations.

 

Lebanon

In the wake of the August 2020 Beirut explosion, International Medical Corps distributed 670,328 PPE items to primary health clinics, hospitals and mobile medical units in the Beirut area. We delivered masks, gloves and gowns to 73 healthcare facilities, as well as other medical supplies to 54 of these. We also delivered PPE to more than 4,000 volunteers working to remove debris and repair damaged homes. Before the blast, our team had developed a COVID-19 contingency plan to address disruptions caused by the outbreak and related restrictions on movement. This involved procuring additional PPE and IPC supplies—including hand sanitizer, sterilization alcohol, gloves, masks and soap—to protect frontline health workers. The team also has raised awareness about COVID-19 among community residents and provided psychological first-aid training to frontline workers. We are collaborating closely with the government and partner NGOs, participating in sub-working groups of national COVID-19 taskforces. So far, 90 facilities that we support have screened 1,130,486 people for COVID-19 symptoms. In total, we have distributed more than 6.7 million PPE and IPC items to International Medical Corps-supported centers and safe spaces for women and girls. Furthermore, we have organized COVID-19 awareness-raising training sessions, reaching 118,787 community residents. In Tripoli and Akkar, we are the health lead for rapid response teams in both cities, an initiative coordinated by UNHCR that works to mitigate the spread and damage caused by the virus in refugee communities. Our team also is providing home-based medical assistance to people with certain conditions—including terminal illnesses and COVID-19—who are shielding at home due to the pandemic. In addition, we are developing activities and guidance for MHPSS support during the pandemic. And working alongside the Lebanon Ministry of Health, International Medical Corps is preparing to support vaccination efforts in the country, focusing on raising awareness among vulnerable groups about the vaccine. Our assistance will, among other things, focus on helping vulnerable residents register for the vaccine, transporting them to relevant vaccination centers, and providing hospitals and vaccination centers with relevant supplies, such as syringes. We have reached 75,877 community members through vaccine-awareness campaigns and have conducted a nationwide vaccine hesitancy survey covering 3,928 people and 99 primary health centers. We have reached 84,565 community members through vaccine-awareness campaigns and have conducted a nationwide vaccine hesitancy survey covering 3,928 people and 99 primary health centers.

 

Syria

International Medical Corps’ team in Damascus continues to provide PPE items and similar supplies to essential workers at our clinics, Ministry of Health-supported clinics and mobile medical teams, supplying 1,291,016 items of PPE since the beginning of the pandemic. Patients visiting our clinics are also screened for COVID-19 symptoms. The team also has provided thousands of bars of soap for immediate distribution and has contributed to hygiene campaigns by providing vehicles and raising awareness about COVID-19. The team is redirecting some supplies previously planned for use within regular programming to a COVID-specific response coordinated by UNICEF in schools, donating 536,752 bars of soap to two NGO partners of the Ministry of Education for distribution to students in four governorates.

 

Turkey

Due to the increased COVID-19 infection risk in health facilities, and to ease the pressure on public hospital ICUs, the Ministry of Health has decided that medically qualified patients can continue treatment at home. To support the early discharge of such patients, International Medical Corps is providing them with lifesaving medical equipment—including oxygen concentrators, aspirator devices, nebulizers and pulse oximeters—through two local partners, assisting 395 discharged patients since early March. In June 2020, as government hospitals resumed a range of non-essential medical services, the team continued to provide individual assistance to non-COVID cases—especially those with disabilities, including the supply of hearing devices, prosthesis and orthosis. In July, the team provided online psychosocial first-aid training, aiming to strengthen psychological intervention skills during emergencies. In September 2020, the team also donated PPE and IPC items—including 465,000 face masks, 310,000 disposable gloves, 1,120 hand sanitizers, 585 thermometers and 24,500 goggles—to five government institutions. Working with our partners as well as the Turkish government, we have trained 82 people in IPC, including the proper use of PPE. The team has adapted existing mental health, protection and physical rehabilitation services to respond to increased needs and context changes related to the pandemic, and continues to provide these services through phone and video calls. Since March 2020, 8,754 people have taken part in COVID-related awareness sessions and COVID-focused mental health awareness sessions. During this time, a call center operated by our partner received thousands of calls, reaching people across more than 60 cities in Turkey. In addition, we reached several thousand people through protection and mental health awareness sessions tailored to the pandemic. Since June 2020, the team has reached 1,397 of the most vulnerable households, providing food and sanitary kits in 26 different provinces. International Medical Corps and our local partner also helped residents of İzmir affected by the magnitude 6.6 earthquake in October 2020, distributing 105,000 masks, 830 emergency hygiene kits, 1,000 COVID-19 test kits and 285 kitchen stoves, reaching 10,000 people sheltering in emergency camps.

 

Yemen

In collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and Population, our healthcare team is sharing COVID-19 case management and education guidelines with health facility staff. We have trained 531 frontline health workers, community health volunteers and staff on COVID-19 case management and prevention methods. We also have provided 43 health facilities with cleaning materials—including gloves, waterproof overalls and soap—to strengthen infection protection and control. Also in collaboration with the ministry, we have trained community health volunteers (CHVs) on how to prevent and treat COVID-19, providing them with related materials to distribute within in their communities, reaching 9,761 residents, as well as to health facilities that we support in Sana’a. Despite the global shortage of protective equipment, our team in Yemen has been able to source and distribute 1,070,016 PPE and IPC items to health facilities, health workers and other staff members. In addition, we donated 16,000 N95 masks to an NGO that runs treatment centers for those diagnosed with moderate to severe cases of COVID-19, which had been in danger of shutting down operations due to the lack of PPE. We are helping another NGO, the Danish Refugee Council, implement an innovative concept called community shielding, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in crowded camp conditions. All International Medical Corps-supported health facilities continue to provide care, so far screening 461,172 people for COVID-19 and referring 42,717 patients suspected to have the disease. Six mobile units and three ambulances we have deployed in the south of the country are providing primary health and nutrition services, as well as COVID-19 referrals. In addition, we have reached 116,987 people through COVID-19 awareness-raising activities. We distributed ICU medical equipment to five targeted health facilities in the north and south that are among the major referral hospitals providing critical and COVID-19 care in the country. We also are raising awareness about COVID-19 in hard-to-reach areas, and in households without radio or television, by using vehicles equipped with speakers. We continue to raise awareness about COVID-19 through a variety of means, including in-person discussions, radio and print media, so far reaching 5 million people through our community health workers, radio and TV coverage.

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