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Six Months After Haiti Earthquake, International Medical Corps is Meeting Long-Term Primary and Mental Health Care Needs of Vulnerable Groups

Saturday, July 10, 2010 General News J E 4
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, July 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nearly six months after the 7.0-earthquake that struck Haiti, International Medical Corps continues to prioritize long-term integrated primary health care services, including mental health, as key to helping hundreds of thousands of Haitians who remain vulnerable and displaced.

"The acute emergency is over but the risk for an outbreak of communicable disease is still very real," says Dr. Jojo Cangao, International Medical Corps Medical Director for Haiti.  "Making integrated primary health care services available to the most vulnerable, including rural and displaced populations, is one of the best preventive measures we can take against the spread of communicable disease, particularly during this hurricane season."

International Medical Corps currently runs 15 mobile and static clinics to serve the most vulnerable, including rural and displaced populations living in and around Port-au-Prince, Petit Goave, Leogane, and Jacmel.  The clinics also provide a critical platform for disease surveillance, something that International Medical Corps prioritizes in close partnership with the Ministry of Public Health and Population so that communicable diseases are better prevented, detected, treated, and controlled.

International Medical Corps integrates mental health care into its primary health clinics by training Haitian clinic staff and approximately 75 community mental health volunteers in psychological response and providing psychiatric care and psychosocial support at eight static and mobile clinics.  

"In the aftermath of the earthquake, psychological first aid was critical in light of the mass loss and devastation," says Dr. Peter Hughes, International Medical Corps psychiatrist in Haiti. "However, as recovery is prolonged and displacement persists, so does the risk for mental health disorders and the need for accessible mental health services through a primary health setting."

In addition to primary and mental health care, International Medical Corps also runs programs in early childhood development, nutrition, water and sanitation, and child protection and currently employs and trains 270 Haitian staff to build local capacity. International Medical Corps is also a member of the United Nations rapid response team and will deploy doctors in 24 hours anywhere throughout Haiti in the event of a hurricane or other disaster.

Since its first emergency response team arrived 22 hours after the earthquake, International Medical Corps has deployed more than 400 medical volunteers from top-tier universities and medical centers worldwide and provided more than 110,000 patient consultations throughout Haiti.

International Medical Corps established an initial base of operations at Hopital de l'University d'Etat d'Haiti (HUEH) in Port-au-Prince two days after the earthquake, and served as lead coordinating agency for the NGOs there in the months to follow. International Medical Corps recently transitioned from direct service delivery at the hospital and is working to help train, supply, and build capacity of the local staff.

With an eye to the long-term, International Medical Corps is bridging relief and development within the Haitian health sector by focusing not only on direct intervention, but also capacity building in key areas, including service delivery, medical supplies and equipment, and human resources management.

Since its inception 25 years ago, International Medical Corps' mission has been consistent: relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster, and disease, by delivering vital health care services that focus on training. This approach of helping people help themselves is critical to returning devastated populations to self-reliance. For more information visit:  www.InternationalMedicalCorps.org

SOURCE International Medical Corps

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