The challenges and our response
Central African Republic (CAR) has been plagued by almost constant unrest and is one of the poorest countries in the world.
For many of its nearly five million inhabitants, violence is an everyday threat. With numerous armed groups operating throughout CAR, internal displacement and refugee movements are common. CAR is surrounded by other countries experiencing conflict, displacement and instability: Chad, Darfur, South Sudan, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Refugees from these neighbouring countries reside in camps, primarily near the border. The weakness or absence of government security, health, education and agricultural services has created a complex humanitarian emergency. International Medical Corps has been providing lifesaving medical relief in CAR, especially in remote, underserved areas of the country, since 2007.
Primary Health Care: Due to ongoing conflict within CAR, International Medical Corps staff often operate under intense pressure as teams deliver emergency medical care and conduct surgeries for victims of conflict. Many people have fled their homes and reside in makeshift settlements throughout the country. Internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and host populations are extremely vulnerable to malnutrition and disease as water, sanitation, food and health care is limited, if not completely nonexistent. International Medical Corps provides health consultations through all of its supported health centres, hospitals and mobile clinics, and conducts immunisation campaigns in remote villages. To address the severe shortage of maternal and reproductive health care services, International Medical Corps provides family planning services, antenatal and postnatal care, and emergency obstetric and neonatal care.
Nutrition: About 1.5 million people require food assistance in CAR. The conflict has greatly affected people’s ability to move freely which diminishes their ability to grow crops, buy food and access health care. In these types of complex conflict situations, vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children under 5 years of age are often at an increased risk of acute malnutrition.
International Medical Corps’ nutrition program includes:
- Community mobilisation to increase the understanding, engagement and participation of the target population,
- Supplementary feeding programs,
- An outpatient therapeutic program for those with severe acute malnutrition and
- A stabilisation centre for those with severe acute malnutrition with medical complications.
In addition, International Medical Corps implements a voucher distribution in the Zemio refugee camp to help camp households meet their basic food requirements and prevent malnutrition. International Medical Corps conducts surveillance of malnutrition within the most affected communities to ensure individuals receive appropriate and timely treatment.
Protection: Often used as a weapon in the conflict in CAR, gender-based violence (GBV) affects the physical, psychological and social health of women and girls, as well as their families and communities.
International Medical Corps conducts trainings in remote areas, such as the Vakaga and Ouham regions, to raise awareness among community members about GBV and to advocate for the safety and protection of children and youth. Community leaders, local authorities, health care providers and representatives from local women’s associations participate in trainings on gender-based violence and children’s rights. International Medical Corps collaborates with the training participants through the local women’s association to reinforce their capacity and provide refresher trainings. In addition, the team provides on-site training and supervision to health care providers who are working directly with survivors of GBV. While cultural and sociopolitical factors are obstacles to reporting GBV in the community, our teams aim to strengthen community awareness of GBV and child protection concerns, while ensuring that survivors have access to necessary resources.