What types of programs has International Medical Corps implemented in 2010 in Haiti and how is the organization reaching vulnerable Haitians?
International Medical Corps prioritizes primary health care for vulnerable groups in Haiti. Our primary health clinics target displaced, those under the highest risk, and often least able to pay for services, or to access health care. We currently run 13 static and mobile primary health clinics serving the city of Port-au-Prince as well as rural areas throughout Haiti. We also offer programs in mental health care, early childhood development, child protection, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), nutrition, and water and sanitation and disaster risk reduction in earthquake-affected areas. Through these efforts, we have provided more than 156,600 patient consultations in 2010. In addition, some of our mobile health clinics reach remote and isolated populations by boat to deliver critical health care services and medicines.
What were some of International Medical Corps’ successes in 2010?
- Employ approximately 1,100 Haitian health care workers and community mobilizers.
- Educated more than 25,000 people on health topics.
- Screened more than 20,000 children for malnutrition and provided treatment for those in need of nutritional support like high-energy biscuits and fortified foods.
- Built 275 latrines and 82 showers and distributed 3,959 hygiene kits and nearly 21,700 bars of soap.
- Distributed $16.2 million in donated medicines, supplies, services, and equipment from our gift-in-kind partners
As with all of our health interventions worldwide, International Medical Corps is also prioritizing training locals in Haiti to help rebuild the country’s broken health infrastructure.
How much in funding has International Medical Corps received for the Haiti response and how has the money been spent?
In the past year we raised approximately $42.5 million in funds from corporate, government, institutional, and private donors, including grants extending through 2011. We have spent nearly $30 million of that amount, including $16.2 million in distributed gift-in-kind.
How has International Medical Corps responded to the cholera outbreak and how are you preventing further spread of the disease?
When the cholera outbreak was first confirmed on October 23, International Medical Corps immediately sent medical teams to the affected region. International Medical Corps has treated thousands of patients through a network of seven Cholera Treatment Centers and has reached about 12,000 people with information on cholera.
International Medical Corps established oral rehydration points in all 13 primary health care clinics in and around Port-au-Prince, Petit Goave, Leogane, and Jacmel. Through these clinics, International Medical Corps administers oral rehydration salts, provides IV fluids for those who are severely dehydrated, and refers or transfer patients to higher level care as needed.
Since cholera has not presented itself in Haiti for more about a century, local health workers were not familiar with the disease, able to identify or treat it.. In addition, unsanitary conditions in temporary tent cities have created an environment where cholera can easily spread. True to our mission, International Medical Corps’ cholera response has focused on training and education, in addition to direct care. When the outbreak was first confirmed, International Medical Corps trained all of our clinic staff on cholera prevention, identification, and treatment. These trainings have now been delivered to a team of 29 doctors and 95 nurses working in primary health clinics and Cholera Treatment Centers throughout Haiti.
International Medical Corps is also working to prevent new cholera cases through wide-scale community education. We have reached at least 11,600 people in churches, schools, camps, orphanages, and communities with information on cholera and continue to expand our cholera education campaign through a network of 320 Community Health Workers as well as other social networks such as the Boy Scout leadership, religious congregations, and community organizations. Infectious disease specialists also have been deployed and are now working with hospitals in Artibonite on medical waste management and infection control.
Does International Medical Corps also provide mental health care services in Haiti?
Our psychiatrists have been working since January 2010 to handle mental health issues that existed before or were triggered by the earthquake. But as hundreds of thousands still live without homes, livelihoods, and basic needs, there is a risk for more mental disorders to develop. That is why we train our clinical staff in mental health response and integrate mental health care into our primary health clinics.
International Medical Corps addressed the mental health needs of 1,064 Haitians and trained more than 630 doctors and nurses in mental health response and case management. We also worked with Mars Kleine Psychiatric Hospital, one of two psychiatric hospitals in the country, to improve in-patient care by training dozens of their staff and providing material support, such as mattresses, cleaning supplies, and other items.
We set up 10 baby tents and trained 9 baby tent monitors to work with mothers on the importance of play in their children’s development. We also trained 10 institutional officers who now work in 69 children’s residential centers to educate caretakers on how they can improve children’s well-being, safety, and development.
What has International Medical Corps done to protect the security of vulnerable Haitians?
In response to an increase in incidents of violence against women and insecure conditions for children, especially in temporary housing like tent camps, we have installed flood lights and trained community members in SGBV response. In addition, we are implementing protection programs focusing on Haiti’s most vulnerable groups – orphans and at-risk children, victims of SGBV, and the physically disadvantaged and mentally ill. We trained doctors, nurses and other health workers on SGBV awareness, prevention and referral. We also trained 150 caretakers at children’s residential centers to improve children’s well-being, safety, and development.
Why hasn’t more been accomplished by the humanitarian community in 2010?
Although the humanitarian community has been able to reach devastated and vulnerable Haitians with health care and additional services in and outside of Port-au-Prince, the needs in Haiti are immense. The international community estimates the total damage from the earthquake at around $7.8 billion. More than 200,000 were killed, 300,000 were injured, and 1.5 million were displaced – that’s three times the number displaced in Aceh following the tsunami.
To that end, the rebuilding effort in Haiti will take years, not months. International Medical Corps plans to use our resources to make medical care, mental health care, clean water, sanitation, and other critical services available to the displaced and those most affected over the next 18 months to two years. We will expand our network of cholera treatment centers and integrated clean water and sanitation activities and community education campaigns. We are working to decentralize health services outside of Port-au-Prince – as per health ministry plans – including in Les Cayes to the south and Cap Haitian to the north. In cooperation with the health ministry, we will continue to provide continuing medical education opportunities to local health professionals, as well as board, accreditation and certification. We will continue to develop Haiti’s mental health infrastructure through training and education of health professionals to identify, treat, and refer mental health cases. We also are working to build the capacity of at-risk communities to prepare and respond to disasters with their own resources.
What is International Medical Corps planning to do in 2011?
International Medical Corps is prioritizing capacity-building within the communities. We provide continuing medical education to our clinic doctors and nurses in topics from cholera to mental health and disease surveillance. We are also training community health volunteers who will promote health education messages, including cholera prevention, and health seeking behaviors within their communities. This is all part of a larger effort to promote healthier communities and prevent outbreaks of disease among vulnerable populations who might otherwise have little access to health care.
International Medical Corps is also looking to develop larger scale capacity-building projects within the Haitian health care system. We are looking to do additional Continuing Medical Education opportunities for Haitian health professionals and we’re also running a disaster risk reduction program in which we are training community first responders and communities at large on disaster preparedness, first aid, and emergency response.
What type of training programs is International Medical Corps implementing to ensure long-term relief?
In 2010, International Medical Corps trained primary health care staff on triage, drug and pharmacy management, infection control, STI/HIV management, disease surveillance and outbreak preparedness, vaccinations, nutrition, and mental health diagnosis and case management.
International Medical Corps completed its first Continuing Medical Education program with the Haitian Medical Associations in the fall. The first, which focused on emergency obstetrics and accreditation, board, and certification, brought together Haitian physicians from different associations and hospitals. 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, including building capacity for disaster preparedness and risk reduction.
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.