International Medical Corps works within the communities we serve, liaising with both residents and their leaders to promote and support programs and other efforts that improve access to basic health services for all residents and for the community as a whole.

An example of this approach, known as integrated community-based case management, is used to treat common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea, chest infections, malaria, and acute malnutrition, relies on local residents—community health workers and members of village health committees—to promote and conduct health education and support social behaviour change.

Actively seeking out and involving community residents is key to implementing effective community-level programs and International Medical Corps pursues this approach at every stage of the program cycle. We believe community ownership and stewardship are crucial ingredients to build sustainable programs that ultimately contribute to better health outcomes for all.

Our goals at International Medical Corps include:

  • Mobilizing members of the community to advocate for their own health for better health outcomes.
  • Training, supporting and supervising community health workers.
  • Educating and informing community residents in best health practices and create demand for quality services.
  • Engage with and enable communities to actively participate and contribute to health programming.

Our Response

Our work to improve the level of health among those who live in the communities we serve is grounded in strong and meaningful community engagement and involvement. We achieve this by involving community leaders and partners, as well as drawing on expertise already present in the community, employing local residents where possible. The use of community based programing creates more favorable outcomes than alternatives because the program becomes a better fit for the community, increasing local buy-in. As an example, community outreach workers have often been extremely successful in promoting community health education. In 2013, a young woman named Azeb led a group of youths in the Ethiopian town of Damut Pullasa, Wolatyita, educating them on sexual and reproductive health. The group, which grew to 150 youth in just a few months, has generated incredible impact on the community – with Azeb even acting as a mentor to younger girls who had nowhere else to go. Results such as this could not have been achieved without the involvement of members of the community. Our use of community health expands throughout all of our work, including other health sectors; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), nutrition, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), and more, as part of an integrated strategy.

We have implemented Family and Community Health programs in nearly 70 countries on five continents over the past 30 years.

Community engagement has been shown to increase health behaviour outcomes by 33%, and social support by 41%.

Minimum standards indicate that there should be one community health worker for every 1000 people in a population during an emergency.

Resources

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