COVID-19: Regional Response Middle East
To increase efficiency of operations and speed of response, as well as deliver more effective programs and services for the communities we serve, International Medical Corps organises its international programs by regions, with each region supported by an interdisciplinary team. The Middle Region includes countries in the Middle East: Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Yemen.
The Iraq team has secured additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and received COVID-19 training, to ensure the safety of staff and beneficiaries as program activities continue. The team is also seeking funding that will cover pandemic-response activities relating to health, with a smaller component related to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). This funding will support people living in internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Mosul, as well as vulnerable people living in Ninewa, Salah Al-Din and Anbar. In addition, the community outreach team is using social media and radio broadcasting to conduct risk communication and health education. While households are on lockdown and movement restrictions are in place, people may experience increased mental and emotional distress, so the mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) team is conducting case management and follow up remotely. In recognition of the increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV) for women and girls who may be confined at home with abusers, the Women and Girls’ Safe Spaces in the camps that we support in Mosul have remained open for case management, with measures in place to prevent transmission of COVID-19. GBV case management is also being provided remotely to survivors beneficiaries who consent to follow-ups via the phone.
International Medical Corps team in Jordan continues to operate vital lifesaving health services across the country. All health services in Azraq and Zaatari Refugee Camps, as well as in Irbid, remain ongoing. International Medical Corps is providing a range of services related to COVID-19 to an estimated 1,500 people living inside Azraq Refugee Camp. Working with camp management, International Medical Corps has deployed a medical team to the camp’s entry and exit points to measure the temperature of anyone entering or exiting the camp. In addition, we have established a 10-patient isolation area inside the camp where immediate treatment can be provided to suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases. We have also freed up space inside Irbid Hospital to isolate suspected cases. In addition, the health team in the camp continues to provide awareness sessions on COVID-19 to residents, as well as NGO and security staff. Working with the Ministry of Health and the Jordanian Psychiatrist Society, International Medical Corps has established a 24/7 psychosocial support hotline in Jordan, staffed by our mental health team, to respond to the growing mental health needs in the face of COVID-19. And while curfew restrictions remain, our maternal health team is providing consultations via phone to new and expecting mothers.
The International Medical Corps team in Lebanon continues to provide vital essential primary health and MHPSS services, as well as GBV assistance to Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese populations. The team has developed a COVID-19 contingency plan, aiming to address any disruptions that may arise because of the outbreak and related restrictions on movement. This has involved procuring additional PPE and infection prevention and control (IPC) supplies—including hand sanitizers, sterilization alcohol, gloves, masks and soap—to protect frontline workers. The team has also raised awareness about COVID-19 among community members and provided psychological first-aid training to frontline workers. International Medical Corps is also working closely with the government and with partner NGOs by participating in sub-working groups of national COVID-19 taskforces.
International Medical Corps’ team in Damascus has distributed hand sanitizers to beneficiaries who attend COVID-19 awareness sessions. To ensure the safety of staff, PPE and similar supplies are being provided to essential workers at our clinics. The team has provided thousands of bars of soap to rural areas near Damascus for immediate distribution, and are contributing to hygiene campaigns by providing vehicles and raising awareness about COVID-19. The team is distributing cleaning tools—used for cleaning water tanks—in schools and health centres as well as supporting disinfection activities. In addition, we are coordinating with the WASH clusters to identify and respond to further needs. Several funding avenues are currently being explored to increase the team’s capacity to respond to the outbreak.
Working with its local partner, International Medical Corps has distributed thousands of PPE and IPC items—including gloves, masks and sanitizers—to service providers and community members. We have provided IPC training, including instructions on the proper use of PPE, to frontline workers, and conducted COVID-19 awareness activities for thousands of community members, the majority of whom attended these activities remotely. The team has also adapted some mental health and physical rehabilitation services to the pandemic—including awareness-raising activities—and is now providing them over the phone or through video calls. Finally, the team continues to seek funding to expand protection and psychosocial services for refugees, and to distribute aid to refugees affected by aspects relating to the outbreak, such as loss of income during the lockdown.
Our health team in Yemen is sharing COVID-19 case management guidelines and other education guidelines with health facility staff. We have trained 190 frontline workers on COVID-19 case management and prevention methods, and provided 21 health facilities with cleaning materials—including gloves, waterproof overalls and soap—to strengthen infection control. In collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, we also have trained community health volunteers (CHVs) on how to prevent and treat COVID-19—for example, the team has distributed materials about how to prevent and treat COVID-19 to CHVs for distribution in their communities, as well as to the health facilities that we support in Sana’a, and have created almost 300 WhatsApp groups with community members where they share educational messages on COVID-19 prevention and protection. The team in Yemen is working on several funding opportunities relating to COVID-19, intending to expand services as needed.