In the north east of Africa, Sudan and in particular the Darfur region in western Sudan remains one of the world’s most severe humanitarian crises as it struggles to recover from 20 years of civil war and continuing insecurity.
The Darfur conflict, which started in 2003, has led to the displacement of 2.7 million people. Despite the signing of a north-south peace agreement in 2005 and a relatively peaceful secession of South Sudan in July 2011, the situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate, as outbreaks of violence claim even more lives and force people to flee their homes. While some internally displaced persons (IDPs) have begun to return to their original communities, many are doubtful of what they will face upon their return in terms of land, security, and basic services.
Despite the challenges of operating there, International Medical Corps has worked in Darfur non-stop since 2004, providing primary health care, maternal and child health, nutrition, water and sanitation, HIV/AIDS, and capacity-building programmes to approximately 500,000 people. In addition to direct services, International Medical Corps also invests in local health professionals and national staff through training and education, to build the foundation for long-term recovery.
All International Medical Corps health interventions emphasize education of local communities on topics, including: gender-based violence, sanitation and hygiene promotion, prevention of common infectious diseases, and safe motherhood. We also empower the local people to fill a variety of health care positions within their own communities.
In addition to building and supporting health centres, International Medical Corps conducts home visits in order to serve the needs of as many people as possible. From 2009-2010, community health workers in Wadi Saleh conducted more than 91,000 home visits. During March 2011, International Medical Corps initiated a 10-day rapid mass vaccination campaign against a measles outbreak in Um Dukhun. Because of this effort, 100 percent of children younger than five years old in and around Um Dukhun Town and 100 percent those in Al Salaam Camp were successfully vaccinated against the disease.
International Medical Corps also provides prevention and care for victims of sexual and gender-based violence (GBV). By educating communities in the region about these issues, we aim to reduce the frequency of such acts in the future.
In addition, our experts recently rehabilitated a hospital in Um Dukhun, West Darfur, making comprehensive Emergency and Obstetric Care (EmOC) services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to vulnerable populations across a huge area stretching as far as the borders of Chad and Central African Republic. International Medical Corps also distributed midwifery kits, including sterile tools and medicines, which resulted in more than 5,000 safe deliveries.
In response, International Medical Corps has worked to expand access to water in the Darfur region through sanitation projects in Mukjar, Garsilla, and Um Dukhun. This includes building waste disposal systems, drainage canals, and safe sanitation facilities as well chlorinating, rehabilitating, and maintaining water points. International Medical Corps also educates communities on the critical role of hygiene in health, so that families can better protect themselves from disease.
Our capcity building teams are rehabilitating health centres in the villages of Riyad, Terij, Urokom, Beija, and Mukja. At Mukjar Hospital, one of the largest health facilities in Darfur, International Medical Corps provides laboratory services and trains staff to take on these highly skilled responsibilities.
International Medical Corps UK recognises the invaluable support of the following European donors to make our work possible.
Just 22 hours after the devastating 7.0-earthquake hit in January 2010, International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team was on the ground in Haiti providing medical care to survivors. Our doctors and nurses were able to mobilise on an unparalleled scale to provide 24-hour emergency care to the acutely injured at the Hôpital de l’Université d’État d’Haiti (HUEH), a 700-bed hospital in Port-au-Prince. HUEH was badly damaged in the earthquake and many local health care professionals were missing. We were able to save thousands of lives through emergency and trauma care in the critical days following the earthquake.
At the height of emergency operations at the hospital, International Medical Corps treated approximately 1,000 patients per day. Our early entry also gave us the foundation to rapidly expand our operations to 15 mobile clinics throughout Haiti to provide critical services. Through the hospital and mobile and fixed clinics, International Medical Corps teams provided more than 110,000 patient consultations during the first year following the emergency.
When reports of acute diarrhoea emerged from the north of Haiti in October 2010, International Medical Corps doctors and nurses immediately deployed to the region providing emergency relief for the growing cholera crisis. Our network of rapidly constructed cholera treatment centres, supported by 820 community health volunteers to educate communities on how to prevent and identify cholera, meant that more than 30,000 cholera patients received life-saving treatment within the first year following the outbreak.
International Medical Corps was among the first organisations to enter Libya once the conflict began in February 2011, providing emergency medical care to casualties from the fighting and support to hospitals with medical staff and supplies. Among the first challenges our Emergency Response Teams encountered was a chronic shortage of nurses, as thousands of foreign nurses had fled the country. In partnership with the Jordan Health Aid Society, International Medical Corps immediately deployed volunteer nurses to health centres across eastern Libya moving them to towns and cities throughout the country as access permitted. Volunteer nurses trained the local counterparts while working alongside them.
At the country’s borders and within Libya, we supplied those displaced by the fighting with essential relief items, including blankets, bottled water and food. Recognising the danger posed by communicable diseases, our sanitation and hygiene specialists constructed latrines and washing stations in transit camps along the Tunisia borders.
As the fighting went on International Medical Corps worked as close to the front line as possible, providing emergency treatment to those injured in the conflict, and medicines and supplies to besieged towns and cities. In Misurata, inaccessible by road, we evacuated nearly 500 injured civilians by boat. International Medical Corps’ mobile field hospitals treated the wounded from battles in Tripoli, the Western Mountains, Bani Walid, Sabha, Jufrah and Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte.
International Medical Corps mobilized an emergency response in Mali in January 2013 after rebel armed forces from the north began moving south, triggering French military intervention. In Timbuktu, which had spent months under the control of armed Islamist rebel our team were amongst the first international organisations to arrive and found pillaged clinics, missing medical personnel and damaged health infrastructure.
We immediately began supporting eight strategically targeted health clinics in remote areas around Timbuktu, where the Malian Ministry of Health has been unable to maintain adequate services to local communities. By providing medicines, training staff and recruiting qualified doctors and nurses, we can ensure local people will now have access to basic primary and secondary health care for the first time in months
True to our mission to build self reliance, International Medical Corps is also already training community health workers to go out to local markets and spread essential hygiene, reproductive health and nutrition messages. We are also working to rehabilitate clinics damaged during the conflict, by building or repairing latrines, water systems, solar panel systems and other infrastructure repairs, enabling health workers to have stable and well-equipped facilities to help the people of Mali.
Basanti, a young mother of two in Nepal, returned home from fetching water for her family to find her 8-month old son Bishal had fallen into the open cooking fire. Basanti was in shock, but she wrapped her baby in blankets and ran for help. No one in their village or at the local health post knew what to do so she had to travel more than six hours by bus to seek emergency care at the closest hospital. The district hospital could only stabilize Bishal and wasn’t able to treat his wounds properly. As a result, his little fingers contracted into a fist as the burned skin contracted and “healed” over the coming year, making it impossible for him to use his hand. His cheek, lips and eyelid also contracted and tightened, threatening his vision.
After selling part of their farm to pay for transportation to Kathmandu, Basanti sought further treatment for her baby. However, two hospitals in the nation’s capital could not help either. Adding to Basanti’s struggles, her husband abandoned the family, leaving her alone to care for Bishal and his four-year-old sister.
Thankfully, Basanti heard about the surgical care available through ReSurge International, our trusted partner with a 43-year history of serving burn victims. Dr. Rai, ReSurge’s Outreach Director in Nepal, and his team restored Bishal’s eyelid and his hand will soon be surgically repaired as well.
Even though it took more than a year for him to get appropriate treatment, Bishal is one of the lucky ones. Thousands of children never get the care they need to live a normal life after a disabling burn.