As lead agency for the PREPARE project, a coalition funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), International Medical Corps is working to strengthen the capacity of countries in Africa and Asia for disaster management and pandemic preparedness planning. As part of the project, International Medical Corps conducted four-day multi-sectoral workshops in Cambodia and Kenya in January, bringing together over 60 representatives of the government, private sector and civil society. These workshops are part of a comprehensive program to improve their capacity to respond to public health crisis and potential socio-economic disruptions brought on by influenza pandemics and other public health emergencies.
As part of a three-year cooperative agreement awarded by USAID, International Medical Corps is working with MedPrep Consulting Group and TRIMED, Inc to strengthen the capacity of countries to prepare for and respond to influenza pandemics and other public health emergencies in a timely and sustainable manner. Focusing on the provision of technical support for simulations and field tests of national, regional and local pandemic preparedness plans, PREPARE closely collaborates with and enhances the ongoing USAID-funded Pandemic Response Program implemented by AFRICOM in Africa and PACOM in Asia-Pacific.
PREPARE emphasizes the “Whole-of-Society” approach, with significant roles to be played by all sectors of society beyond the health sector. The project brings together national governments, civil society groups, the private sector and communities to plan and test preparedness capabilities, then develop a “preparedness toolkit” and training scheme to maintain the capacity needed to deal with a severe influenza pandemic as one type of global mega-catastrophe. As a result, target countries will have improved pandemic preparedness strategies that will become an integral part of their national emergency management plans and will effectively cooperate in their planning with the private sector and the providers of essential services.
For more than 25 years, a significant number of International Medical Corps’ responses have included technical assistance for the treatment and control of epidemic diseases. The organization has more than 4,000 field-based staff, including approximately 200 physicians and public health experts, as well as 10 Medical Directors coordinating health interventions worldwide, including H1N1 pandemic preparedness activities. Throughout 2011, International Medical Corps will draw on its breadth of technical experience to implement additional PREPARE workshops and simulation exercises in Senegal, Indonesia, Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Laos, Thailand, Philippines and India.