Local Heroes. Stronger Communities.
LOCAL HEROES: HELPING MILLIONS STARTS WITH TRAINING ONE
As a first responder to every major global emergency for the past 34 years, saving millions of lives, International Medical Corps has a well-deserved reputation for speed and efficiency.
Our true legacy, however, lies in our unique long-term training strategy—and with the thousands of frontline health workers we train and employ in the world’s most underserved communities.
Because helping MILLIONS starts with training ONE, International Medical Corps stays long after the news headlines fade—to help communities recover and rebuild by strengthening the capacity of local healthcare workers to serve their own people.
This month, we are honouring our brave and resilient local heroes for the work they do on the front lines every day. We will be sharing their extraordinary stories, showcasing how they help their communities through war and disaster.
True resilience means having the tools and training to become self-reliant, as preparation and knowledge promote confidence and independence. We train thousands of people each year from local communities, as well as from national, regional and local governments and non-government groups, including health professionals, to respond to and prepare for emergencies. And through our supportive supervision model, we go back to communities periodically to ensure that local health workers are using their new knowledge and skills.
Training local health workers is critical to addressing urgent, global health challenges like maternal mortality. Every year, an estimated 300,000 women and 3 million newborns die from complications during pregnancy, childbirth or other neonatal causes. 92% of global maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths occur in low- and middle-income countries, where it can be hard to find a health-services—only 42% of the world’s medical midwifery and nursing personnel is available to women and newborn infants in these countries.
In Afghanistan, for example, where about 1 out of every 62 Afghan mothers die during birth or because of related complications, having a skilled birth attendant or midwife in your community can be a matter of life or death. Yet for large parts of the population who live in rural areas, access to appropriate and affordable medical care is often non-existent. That’s why International Medical Corps has have trained more than 2,000 midwives in the country since 2007. Each Afghan midwife can provide up to 330 women from her own community with maternal health care. That’s 660,000 women reached, every year—which is FAR more than we could reach alone.
All across the world, we train community members to become their own first responders—and strengthen communities. We especially focus on training frontline health workers, as they represent a lifeline for their communities. It is through such training that we are able to create our most lasting impact and sustain the programs we start long after we have departed.
Read on to meet our local heroes.
Mothers and fathers gathered together as part of International Medical Corps’ Sustainable Nutrition Agriculture Program (SNAP) in Maforika village in Sierra Leone. As part of mother care groups, the women act as “lead mothers” in their communities and share health messages with other moms. The program is part of a wider effort by International Medical Corps to improve maternal and child healthcare in Sierra Leone.
Year-two students practice what they have learned in the classroom in the skills lab at the midwifery school in Wau, South Sudan. As part of an effort to reduce the country's maternal and infant mortality rates, which rank among the highest in the world, International Medical Corps is helping this school and two others in South Sudan to increase the number of skilled birth attendants.
In March 2017, International Medical Corps trained 120 volunteers from Mosul in first aid so that neighbourhoods in the city have more equipped first responders. Twenty of the volunteers were later selected for higher-level training to serve as team leaders for the first responders in their communities.
Following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, we held community health training on breastfeeding for new and expecting mothers, supported by our nutrition program. Our partner, Alimentacion Segura Infantil, led the training.
An International Medical Corps' team of doctors and nurses who provide healthcare services at Galkayo Hospital, Somalia.
We are responding to the floods in Somalia by distributing hygiene kits to the affected families and educating them about proper hygiene practices, such as hand washing and water storage.
International Medical Corps hosted a discussion about Ebola with teachers and other school faculty in Coyah, Guinea, where — according to Director of Schools Maria Gbilimon — there were "so many victims." She says that discussions with educators are critical because they are then able to go back to their classrooms and share the information with students, who pass it onto their families and peers.