When a devastating earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, International Medical Corps was on the ground, providing emergency medical care and assistance in less than 24 hours. During the emergency response, International Medical Corps deployed more than 400 medical volunteers to provide lifesaving care to Haitians. Since the earthquake, International Medical Corps has gone on to establish a network of 14 primary health care clinics in and around the earthquake-affected areas of Port-au-Prince, Petit Goave, and Jacmel and launch other programmes in mental health, nutrition, child protection, early childhood development, and water and sanitation.
A cholera outbreak in 2010 has killed more than 330 people and hospitalized over 5,000 in Haiti. International Medical Corps is fighting the outbreak via Cholera Treatment Centres (CTCs) and through its network of Community Health Workers, launching massive education campaigns on cholera symptoms and prevention, to bring this deadly but preventable disease under control.
Within two weeks, we established 13 primary health clinics in displacement camps and earthquake-affected areas throughout Haiti. We mobilised 408 medical volunteers from around the world including emergency room, intensive care, and paediatric doctors and nurses as well as mental health experts and infectious disease specialists. We trained Haitians during the emergency in order to start strengthening capacity for the long-term. Our logistics and in-kind donation partners helped deliver critical medicines, supplies, and equipment. We quickly established a logistics base in the Dominican Republic, procured supplies locally, and worked with partners who had supplies pre-positioned in warehouses in Haiti.
Because cholera is a new disease in Haiti, the majority of the country’s health workers had never seen it before the outbreak. International Medical Corps made the Ministry of Health (MoH) and local doctors, nurses, and community health workers central to its cholera response. International Medical Corps trained and mentored more than 1,200 doctors, nurses, and community health workers so that our network of CTCs were established and staffed largely by local health professionals and could eventually be handed over to the MoH and be a part of the country’s long-term infrastructure to prevent and treat cholera.
In the South Department, 14% of cholera cases resulted in death until International Medical Corps took over the area’s two largest CTCs. One month later, the fatality rate fell to 2.5%. Two months later, it was 0.5%. This success is largely due to the fact that International Medical Corps trains local health professionals to handle cholera and then mobilises entire communities in the fight against the disease. International Medical Corps reached more than 2 million people with cholera awareness and prevention messages and distributed more than 765,200 hygiene and sanitation items, which help Haitians to protect themselves against cholera.
A focus on water and sanitation projects has laid the foundation necessary for Haiti to eradicate cholera in the long term, through building latrines, hand washing stations, and waste disposal systems across urban and rural locations. International Medical Corps incorporates water and sanitation into all of our community-based programmes so that public health is not only possible, but sustainable.