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Gates Foundation Awards International Medial Corps $800,000 to Provide Emergency Health Care in Central African Republic

Monday, 18 November 2013 18:11 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

November 18, 2013 - Los Angeles – With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, International Medical Corps will rapidly scale up to meet the critical health needs of families who have been displaced by conflict in Central African Republic (CAR). One of the world’s poorest countries, CAR is characterized by insecurity and violence among active rebel groups, which has had a devastating impact on health, education, water and sanitation services, leaving thousands without access to basic care. CAR’s entire population of 4.5 million has been affected by the latest conflict that began in December 2012, with an estimated 1.6 million people, half of them children, in dire need of humanitarian assistance. International Medical Corps, which has been working in CAR since 2007, will expand critical health services to underserved areas and prevent disease outbreaks among internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“Years of conflict, instability, poverty and disease in CAR have created one of the worst and most neglected humanitarian crises in the world today,” says Nancy Aossey, President & CEO of International Medical Corps. “Through this generous $800,000 grant, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has once again demonstrated extraordinary commitment to tackling the world’s biggest challenges and reaching those most vulnerable and in need.”

The widespread, multifaceted humanitarian emergency in CAR has forced thousands of people to flee their homes in search of safety. An estimated 206,000 people are displaced within the country, many of them living in the bush. IDPs face extremely poor living conditions, and the threat of disease outbreak stemming from a lack of sanitation and basic health services is alarmingly high. Further, humanitarian access is limited and there are gaps in the primary health care system, making the supply of vaccines and training of health workers essential for public health.

International Medical Corps’ “Emergency Response to Health Needs in Central African Republic” project will improve access to essential health care services in remote areas of Bria and Bossangoa, reaching 27,860 children under the age of 5. In order to increase community capacity to prepare for and respond to disease outbreaks, International Medical Corps will preposition polio vaccines, disseminate health messages, support Ministry of Health and UNICEF vaccination campaigns, and train health care workers on health, hygiene and sanitation. International Medical Corps will also strengthen disease surveillance and conduct community education activities, such as mass education sessions and door-to-door sensitization on identifying outbreaks in measles, polio and cholera.

International Medical Corps works primarily in the northeastern prefectures of Vakaga and Haute-Kotto in CAR, and remains one of only two international organizations working in those regions. The organization provides curative and preventive consultations; maternal and child health care; child protection; therapeutic and supplementary nutrition services; HIV/AIDS prevention; health education; gender-based violence prevention and response; and hygiene promotion activities to IDPs, refugees and conflict-affected communities in CAR.

Since its inception nearly 30 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. Also see us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.