Violence that followed Kenya’s 2007 elections left approximately 1,000 people dead, hundreds of thousands displaced and the entire nation reeling. With one of the world’s highest HIV/ AIDS infection rates, it’s estimated that between 1.5 and 2 million Kenyans carry the virus.
Following the worst droughts to affect the Horn of Africa in more than 60 years areas of Kenya have suffered serious food shortages and increasing malnutrition rates. Refugees from conflict and famine across the border in Somalia have swelled the Dadaab complex in Eastern Kenya to become the largest refugee camp in the world.
International Medical Corps has more than a decade of experience working in Kenya, much of it at the centre of the battle to contain Kenya’s HIV/ AIDS epidemic. We currently administer two large HIV/ AIDS programmes targetting vulnerable populations including young people, fishing communities, prisoners and sex workers. Our efforts also focus on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/ AIDS.
In addition, we operate emergency nutrition programmes for drought-stricken populations in northern and coastal Kenya, where livelihoods have also been badly affected by the effects of unrest and famine in neighboring Somalia.
The first of our programmes focuses on Kenya’s extremely high-risk prison population. Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya meaning no formal recognition of sexual activity in prisons and, therefore, no protection against HIV infection. International Medical Corps currently supports HIV and tuberculosis (TB) services in 51 prisons with plans to operate in all 103 institutions throughout the country. The five-year programme has introduced innovations such as:
The second HIV/AIDS programme is a five-year initiative that focuses on the fishing communities in Western Kenya, who are among Kenya’s most-at-risk populations (MARPS). The MARPS project provides HIV prevention services to fisher folk and sex workers along beaches in Suba and Migori in Nyanza province.
In 2011, we reached more than 120,000 people with home-based testing and counselling. This follows a completed five-year International Medical Corps programme in Nyanza province which focused on preventing mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT).
International Medical Corps utilizes the innovative Mother Care Group model in Samburu, which involves training a core group of local mothers in good nutrition practices, then sending them to form their own local community groups. 1,200 such groups have already been formed and training is ongoing to improve nutrition and health education in local communities.
Also in Samburu and Isiolo, we provided an average of 21,500 individuals each month with nutritional support with assistance from the World Food Programme. Finally, we provide High Impact Nutrition Interventions in Tana River, Laikipia Samburu and Isiolo districts with support from UNICEF and in Meru North with support from the United Nations Office for the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs.
We are working to strengthen the Government-spearheaded “Free Primary education in Kenya” by improving the quality and quantity of water in 6 vulnerable primary schools in Samburu North District. We do this through the provision of rain water harvesting infrastructure and training of the Water User Committees. Due to water scarcity in the area, children are asked to bring drinking water with them for the day, and the water provided by our rainwater harvesting systems provides water for handwashing and food preparation for the children.
In April 2012 we started a year long intervention in 25 health facilities in Samburu providing support to o water and sanitation provision. Following a thorough assessment of each facility and identifying the most pressing needs, we are building staff and patient latrines, repairing current water distribution networks if required, and providing rainwater storage tanks.
International Medical Corps UK recognises the invaluable support of ECHO 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.