The challenges and our response
A small country of just six million people, Lebanon is now hosting some one million Syrian refugees as well as more than 300,000 Palestinians.
That means 30 percent of the country’s population is made up of refugees, an influx that has left public services severely overstretched and deepened poverty levels. Just over half of Syrians and 10 percent of Lebanese are extremely poor and living on the equivalent of just a few pounds a day. As a result, some 3.3 million people in Lebanon are in need of assistance, a figure that includes both refugee and host communities.
Emergency Response: Our emergency response experts, including our mobile medical units, work rapidly to address ongoing emergencies and the massive needs of families fleeing violence, ensuring increased access to primary healthcare services. International Medical Corps regularly distributes relief supplies to tens of thousands of people in need. This includes medical aids for people suffering from physical disabilities such as wheelchairs, walkers, air mattresses and toilet chairs, as well as hygiene items such as soap, shampoo and diapers.
Health Care: International Medical Corps works to ensure access to quality health services for Syrian refugees, vulnerable Lebanese and other persons of concern. We do this by supporting a network of about 50 primary health care clinics and dispensaries across the country. The primary health care clinics focus on prevent and health maintenance, including routine physical examinations, wellness exams for children, malnutrition screening, immunisations, referrals, care and follow-up treatment for those with non-communicable diseases, as well as antenatal and postnatal care.
International Medical Corps procures essential medications based in the Ministry of Public Health’s drug list and works closely with the supported PHC to dispense and monitor their use. Aside from providing financial assistance, International Medical Corps works closely with these PHCCs to provide continuous capacity-building support with the goal to improve the quality of services at each facility.
On average International Medical Corps supported facilities provide more than 27,000 consultations per month. Between September 2016 and August 2017, we provided health services to nearly three-quarters of a million beneficiaries.
Community Health: Awareness raising and health education are key components of International Medical Corps’ primary health care services. These services play a valuable role in limiting the spread of communicable diseases and minimising both primary and secondary health care costs. International Medical Corps identifies volunteers from local communities and provides them with in-depth training and field coaching. Training includes a variety of health education topics including infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases and other chronic illnesses, infant and young child feeding nutrition for the life cycle, immunisation, new born care, antenatal care, person hygiene and sexually transmitted diseases.
These Community Health Workers serve as a vital link between PHCCs and those residing in the surrounding areas. They provide referrals and follow-up with refugees and vulnerable Lebanese at home, in informal settlements and collective shelters, as well as schools and underserved neighborhoods. The Community Health team also organises health campaigns across the country in coordination with local and international partners to sensitise communities and district hygiene and feminine kits following interactive health and hygiene awareness sessions.
In 2017, International Medical Corps trained and supported 73 Community Health Workers, of which 65 were women. Between September 2016 and August 2017, the International Medical Corps Community Health team reached more than 32,000 beneficiaries through awareness sessions and referred over 16,000 beneficiaries to health care services.
Mental health and psychosocial support: International Medical Corps has played a leading role in the delivery of comprehensive mental health programming since arriving in Lebanon more than a decade ago. We have expanded access to services by training primary health care providers to diagnose and treat mild to moderate mental illnesses and disorders. Through the mental health care centres we support, primary health clinics and community centres, multi-disciplinary case management teams comprised of case managers, psychotherapists and psychiatrists provide continuous support to beneficiaries and refer cases to other services, according to need. Between September 2016 and August 2017, International Medical Corps provided over 22,500 MHPSS consultations to more than 2,500 beneficiaries.
As part of efforts to promote health and well-being among refugees and vulnerable Lebanese, International Medical Corps also offers community-based activities for youth and caregivers among other persons of concern. Programs around parenting skills and early childhood development, for example, are designed to raise awareness on a variety of mental health topics and equip individuals with the resources they need to help both themselves and those around them. Between September 2016 and August 2017, over 10,800 individuals have participated in awareness sessions. International Medical Corps has also developed 15 educational booklets on mental health disorders including depression, post-partum depression, loss and grief, enuresis, paranoia, schizophrenia and psychosomatic disorders
International Medical Corps also supports the Ministry of Public Health’s National Mental Health Program, which provides national level guidelines and policies for mental health services in Lebanon. Our partnerships with the National Mental Health Program helps integrate mental health into primary healthcare ensuring access to quality mental health care within the existing health.
Gender-based Violence: As part of efforts to prevent early marriage, domestic and sexual violence, among other forms of gender-based violence (GBV), International Medical Corps convenes community awareness sessions around women’s empowerment and leads psychosocial activities such as support groups for vulnerable children, women and men.
The Youth Empowerment Program (YEP), which culminates in community-based projects designed and implemented by youth is also instrumental in raising awareness of GBV concerns. The program activity engages the wider community in prevention efforts and strengthens linkages with relevant service providers. Under the response component, International Medical Corps also provides case management and counselling services to women and girls in addition to men and boys through safe spaces and community centers across Lebanon.
Between September 2016 and August 2017, International Medical Corps provided over 9,200 consultations for GBV survivors and other vulnerable women and girls. We also reached over 7,000 individuals with awareness-raising messaging. We conduct capacity strengthening activities on clinical management of rape (CMR). Between September 2016 and August 2017, this included CMR training to 57 health professionals from 12 primary health care clinics across Lebanon.