Nearly one year after a 7.0-earthquake struck Haiti, International Medical Corps is rapidly expanding its initial health response to address new medical needs caused by the cholera outbreak, while building capacity within the local health care system through training programs that increase the knowledge and skills of Haitian medical professionals, including emergency and trauma care that will save lives in future emergencies.
“A year after the earthquake, Haiti is still struggling to recover, while facing new and devastating emergencies, such as the cholera outbreak,” says Michael Dockrey, International Medical Corps Country Director in Haiti. “International Medical Corps is committed to delivering lifesaving medical services in the short-term, while meeting the long-term needs of the Haitian people through training and education programs in their local communities. In disaster zones around the world, this has proved over and over to be the best way to ensure that local populations can recover faster and become self-reliant.”
International Medical Corps recently was awarded $7.3 million from USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) to combat cholera in Haiti and is currently operating seven Cholera Treatment Centers throughout the country, where some 8,000 patients have received lifesaving treatment, as well as large-scale community education activities that have reached more than 11,600 Haitians through a network of community health workers as well as other social mobilizers such as the Boy Scouts and religious leaders, both Christian and Voodoo, and community leaders.
Its cholera response activities are coupled with a network of 13 primary health clinics throughout Haiti. In the past year, International Medical Corps has provided more than 156,000 patient consultations through its primary health care clinics, which target both displacement camps and remote communities with little access to health services. As a leader in mental health, International Medical Corps also has integrated mental health services into its primary health clinics and trained more than 630 doctors and nurses how to identify, treat, and refer mental health disorders.
International Medical Corps also laid the foundation for an ambitious Continuing Medical Education (CME) program. Its first CME program focused on emergency obstetrics in conjunction with the Haitian Medical Societies. Future CME seminars are being planned for early 2011 and will include topics considered most needed by Haiti’s Ministry of Health and medical professional groups. In addition, International Medical Corps carried out an Essential Trauma Care course in Jacmel to provide didactic and practical training for physicians and nurses. An effort to integrate up-to-date injury and emergency care methods for health care workers, the course was a part of a Disaster Risk Reduction program funded by the European Commission.
Since its first emergency response team arrived 22 hours after the earthquake, International Medical Corps has also:
• Deployed more than 400 medical volunteers from top-tier universities and medical centers.
• Conducted 156,607 patient consultations.
• Employed and trained 287 local Haitian health care workers.
• Trained 150 caretakers working in 69 children’s residential centers to improve children’s well-being, safety, and development.
• Educated 2,800 community members and 60 health personnel from the health ministry on disaster risk reduction.
• Built 275 latrines and 82 showers.
• Educated more than 35,000 people on good hygiene practices.
• Distributed water purification tablets to 4,170 households.
• Delivered 21,654 bars of soap to 3,600 families.
• Provided hygiene kits to nearly 4,000 families.
With an eye to the long-term, International Medical Corps is bridging relief and development within the Haitian health sector by focusing on direct intervention, as well as capacity building in key areas, including service delivery, medical supplies and equipment, and human resources management.