Our Work

Women’s and Children’s Health

including Gender-based Violence Protection and Response

International Medical Corps considers women’s and children’s health a key priority for healthy communities. Because women constitute the foundation of both families and communities, their well-being is essential for the success of those around them. Protecting that well-being is a central challenge of Women’s and Children’s Health in most communities.

International Medical Corps works with communities and local health authorities to improve the health of expectant women by offering safe motherhood services that include antenatal care, safe delivery by skilled birth attendants, quality care for obstetric and newborn emergencies, post-natal care and family planning that stresses healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies. Furthermore, International Medical Corps contributes to better health outcomes and reduction of common childhood illnesses and deaths through our programs that include vaccinations against communicable diseases, growth monitoring, early childhood development interventions and community-based case management of common childhood illnesses.

In times of crisis, when the traditional social codes protecting women can easily break down, women and children become more vulnerable to abuse, rape or sexual exploitation. We offer culturally appropriate services for gender-based violence and work to reduce forms of violence rooted in gender discrimination.

Up to 80% of internally displaced people and refugees are women and children
Globally, 16,000 children die every day before their 5th birthday. More than half of these deaths can be prevented or easily treated
220 million women worldwide want to delay or avoid a pregnancy but are unable to practice family planning because they lack the access

Areas of Focus

Overview

During emergency, protracted crisis, early recovery or development, International Medical Corps provides and/or supports a wide range of services to reduce maternal and newborn illnesses and deaths. These services include:

  • Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP), implemented during the onset of crisis to prevent and manage the consequences of sexual violence, prevent excess maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality, reduce HIV transmission, and plan for comprehensive Reproductive Health services beginning in the early days and weeks of an emergency
  • Family planning programming including emergency contraception
  • Maternal and newborn health including basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric care; essential newborn care; antenatal, delivery, and post-natal care; provision of clean delivery kits; immunizations; and post-abortion care with management of complications resulting from unsafe abortion and miscarriage and referral for psychosocial support
  • Sexual health including prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and reproductive tract infections through community-level action such as education and condom programming as well as clinical case management (commonly the syndromic approach), detection and treatment of cervical cancer, and prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, including prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT)
  • Adolescent sexual and reproductive health

Key Stats

About 800 women die every day from preventable, pregnancy-related causes
When a woman dies in childbirth, her surviving children are ten times more likely to die within two years than those whose mothers remain in the home
Among adolescent girls, about 70,000 deaths occur every year due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth

Overview

Children depend on their families and their communities for well-being in all aspects of their lives—a reality that makes the health of children in every society a good proxy indicator for a functioning health care system that caters to all.

Globally, there has been progress in reducing the number of children who die before their 5th birthday. Despite this progress, the Millennium Development Goal target for reducing child deaths was not met by the 2015 target date, underscoring the need to do more to achieve this goal. In the majority of cases under-5 child deaths are due to diseases that are preventable or treatable using proven, affordable and cost-effective methods.

International Medical Corps works at the community level to support the sustainable delivery of proven child health practices such immunizations, growth monitoring, nutrition services, consultations for common diseases and integrated community-based case management of common childhood illnesses.

Key Stats

Between 1990 and 2015, the death rate of children under 5 years-old dropped 53%, from 91 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 1990 to 43 in 2015, a number that translates into 16,000 deaths every day
An estimated 45% of all under 5 child deaths occur in the first 28 days of child’s life
There were at least 300,000 unaccompanied migrant and refugee children recorded in some 80 countries in 2015-2016—five times the number record in 2010-2011

Overview

Gender-based violence is a pervasive public health and human rights problem, affecting the physical and psychological health of survivors, as well as the health and well-being of families and communities. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to violence in emergency settings, when risks are compounded at the very time when support systems are interrupted. International Medical Corps works with communities to address these risks and to combat beliefs and practices that perpetuate violence against women and girls. International Medical Corps is also a leading agency in the delivery of quality, focused support services for survivors of gender-based violence. We tailor support services to different cultures and contexts, helping survivors to recover from traumatic experiences and safely reintegrate into communities.

Key Stats

Worldwide, one in three women have experienced violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence by a non-partner
Women who have been abused by their partners are almost twice as likely to experience depression, and in some regions, 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV
Complications from pregnancy and childbirth is the leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19 in developing countries, where one in three girls will marry before the age of 18

Overview

International Medical Corps establishes survivor-centered case management services, where survivors receive ongoing support as trained case workers help them connect to multiple services, based on their needs and choices. Focused support services promote the dignity, safety, and well-being of survivors.

Key Stats

Survivors of sexual violence face multiple barriers to receiving care and support, from fear of stigma or reprisal to discriminatory laws and policies
Early support after incidents of rape can prevent unwanted pregnancy, infections, and HIV
In emergency conditions about half of all reported cases of sexual violence involve children

Overview

International Medical Corps works to increase social, learning and recreational opportunities for women and girls affected by emergencies and displacement. We organize safe spaces for women and girls to gather, receive information, and re-build support networks that protect them in normal times, with the goal to improve their safety and well-being. These spaces also serve as critical hubs for women and girls to access multiple services, from life-skills training for girls, to nursing support for new mothers. The safe spaces also allow survivors of GBV to safely and discreetly seek help.

Key Stats

Only 11% of landholders in conflict and post-conflict countries are women
Girls are nearly 2.5 times more likely than boys to be out of school in conflict-affected countries
Across the world, women and girls are disadvantaged in terms of social power and influence, control of resources and participation in public life

Overview

International Medical Corps works with community groups to identify and mitigate particular risk factors for gender-based violence. We also engage communities, particularly men and boys, to promote women’s and girls’ equality and to foster positive, non-violent behavior.

Key Stats

Cycles of violence continue across generations, where children who grow up in violent homes are more likely to perpetrate and to be affected by violence as adults
Increasingly, evidence demonstrates that even short-term programs can have important impacts on peoples’ attitudes and behavior
Gender equality is significantly linked to development and stability

“If Motherhood Is The Ultimate Sisterhood – Then Our Sisters Are At Risk:" Author and First Responder Heidi Murkoff recounts her recent trip to Sierra Leone

I rubbed a lot of bellies last week, had a lot of hugs, did a lot of newborn cuddling. My kind of week – but with a very moving twist. Because it happened in Sierra Leone. This beautiful West African nation has suffered terribly over recent years – first through a brutal decade-long civil war, then through the Ebola crisis, which left thousands dead and countless children orphaned.

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