The challenges and our response
International Medical Corps has worked in Mali since 2013 following political instability and a coup d’état which caused mass displacement and the disruption of many public systems including health care. The violence and insecurity in the north aggravated the already fragile health and nutritional conditions in the region and women and girls became increasingly exposed to acts of sexual violence.
To support those affected by the conflict, International Medical Corps provides lifesaving assistance to address the immediate needs of vulnerable populations in north and central Mali. Interventions focus on nutrition; maternal, newborn and child health; family planning and reproductive health; and gender-based violence interventions, including the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. We currently operate in three regions, supporting 70 health facilities and one mobile clinic, benefiting more than 862,000 people.
Infectious Disease Prevention and Response
International Medical Corps has provided didactic and simulation training in infectious disease case management such as Ebola to medical and non-medical personnel from the public and private health systems, Malian Ministry of Health, partner agencies and Red Cross volunteers. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Mali, we provided capacity-building and training to medical and non-medical personnel from public and private health institutions, the Ministry of Health, partner agencies and others. By the end of 2020, International Medical Corps had trained more than 315 medical and non-medical professionals from 71 healthcare facilities about how to limit the spread of COVID-19 across Mali. We also participated in the disinfection of key public places in Timbuktu and Gourma Rharous, and provided infection prevention and control and WASH materials—including handwashing devices, soap, disinfectants, gloves, face shields and masks—to 70 healthcare facilities, as well as at public places and women and girl’s safe spaces. International Medical Corps continues to provide logistical support for the transportation of suspected COVID-19 patients. Finally, we have protected our staff and the people we serve by reducing public gatherings, raising awareness on COVID-19 prevention and encouraging handwashing and mask wearing during all activities.
We work to address deficits and inequities in healthcare delivery by improving the provision of healthcare services and meeting the growing demand for access to these services, especially in remote areas. We are one of the few organizations operating mobile teams, and supporting referrals between the community, primary healthcare facilities and secondary healthcare facilities in Taoudénit, Timbuktu and Ségou, despite the geographical complexity of the area and the unstable security context. In 2020, at least 126,000 people benefited from curative consultations, 7,088 women received antenatal care consultations and 3,073 deliveries were assisted by qualified personnel in International Medical Corps-supported health facilities in Timbuktu and Gourma Rharous. In Segou, we also support free healthcare targeting malnourished children by supporting the inpatient and outpatient management of severe acute malnutrition.
International Medical Corps supports community health centres in northern Mali to prevent and treat malnutrition. We do this by training health care providers in the treatment of malnutrition, providing nutrition supplies and medication and strengthening the referral systems between community health centres and regional health facilities and hospitals.
Within communities, we train community health volunteers in how to identify and refer malnourished children and pregnant and breastfeeding women—and ultimately identify malnutrition cases earlier before they are complicated and harder to treat. To prevent malnutrition, we promote the care group model, which uses volunteers to encourage mothers to adopt practices known to improve child nutrition. International Medical Corps implements Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition activities focusing on prevention and management of Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) for children under two and pregnant and lactating women.
Gender-based violence (GBV) rates in Mali significantly increased during the recent conflict in the north. We work in health facilities in Gourma-Rharous and Timbuktu districts, providing confidential and compassionate clinical and psychosocial care to GBV survivors. We also work with communities to train community volunteers and local health staff and design referral paths to other relevant services. Protection interventions focus on the prevention of sexual assault, clinical and psychosocial management of sexual assault survivors and increasing the resilience of communities.
In 2020, 25 GBV survivors benefited from psychosocial and medical care or support in the form of vulnerability kits, depending on their needs. We also trained 240 people on various topics related to GBV, including basic concepts of GBV, case referral and facilitation techniques, and women’s leadership.