COVID-19: Response in the Americas
International Medical Corps has been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Bahamas by promoting water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and infection prevention and control, and providing supplies. On the island of Grand Bahama, we have provided five health facilities with bucket handwashing stations and distributed 14,436 personal protection equipment (PPE) items, including masks, gloves, gowns, sharps containers, aprons and first-aid kits. To date, International Medical Corps has reached more than 15,000 individuals in the Bahamas with COVID-19 awareness messaging. In recent weeks, we have trained an additional 13 frontline staff have been trained and we have reached six primary health facilities in our pandemic response. In addition, the Bahamas team is providing mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services through webinars and TV and radio show discussions on coping with stress from COVID-19, as well as a psychosocial support hotline that provides peer support group activities by telephone. As social distancing measures relaxed in June, the team restarted a community outreach program, providing health and hygiene promotion. In coordination with Grand Bahama Health Services, we also started new rounds of infection prevention and control (IPC) and disinfection training sessions adapted for COVID-19, reaching 80 health housekeeping staff and more than 100 people from small businesses. In July, we provided mental health training for 20 health professionals and psychological first-aid training for an additional 50 health workers. Though a lockdown was instituted on the island at the end of July until August 19, International Medical Corps resumed activities, including PFA and IPC training, and improvements to WASH infrastructure, including handwashing stations. As programming winds down—the mission is set to close at the end of September—International Medical Corps is ensuring that healthcare workers and small business owners have the knowledge and tools to prevent and protect themselves from the pandemic moving forward.
Although Puerto Rico imposed the United States’ first lockdown in March, and carried out stringent measures to keep the pandemic under control and the island’s underequipped hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, COVID-19 cases have recently been trending upward. International Medical Corps has been responding to COVID-19 by supporting four hospitals with PPE and medical equipment, as well as emergency medical field units that have enabled hospitals to screen more than 2,100 patients to date. International Medical Corps’ Puerto Rico mission is adapting its current programming to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19, shifting many of its nutrition awareness and education activities to an approach that includes increased use of social media, development of an informational hotline and remote training. The mission continues to provide PPE to supported hospitals and is working on a new opportunity to support these facilities with an additional $200,000 of goods and training. To date, the Puerto Rico team has reached 54,000 people with COVID-19 awareness messaging on social media.
To help meet a rising need for disaster response in the US, International Medical Corps offers robust domestic response capacity that can quickly provide health and medical care to affected jurisdictions. We maintain Mission Ready Packages that enable rapid response to meet the medical surge needs of local jurisdictions, typically within 24 to 72 hours.
As of January 21, there were 24,627,675 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 410,102 deaths from the disease, in the United States. International Medical Corps is responding to the outbreak of coronavirus and COVID-19 in the US and globally, providing expertise, equipment, training, and triage and treatment services. Our multi-pronged approach, which ensures that at-risk countries and regions are able to prepare for and respond to potential outbreaks of the coronavirus, prioritizes areas where the disease has spread or where healthcare systems and populations are particularly vulnerable.
More than 100,000 Venezuelans have been forced to return to their home country in recent months due to the pandemic, with some walking for thousands of miles after facing job losses and business closures while working abroad because of national lockdowns. Hospitals continue to be understaffed, and the nurses that risk their lives to show up for work take home barely enough money to buy the day’s groceries. International Medical Corps is one of only a few international non-governmental organizations to receive import licensing to support healthcare facilities in Venezuela. As concerns around COVID-19 have continued to grow, our team is participating in coordination meetings with UN agencies, INGOs, key health officials and mayors of municipalities, has been coordinating with directors of health facilities in Miranda state and will be meeting with officials in Táchira and Bolivar states. To meet growing needs, we have imported PPE—including gloves and masks—and inter-agency emergency health kits that include basic medicines, equipment and supplies to provide lifesaving services to 10,000 people for approximately three months. Our Venezuela team has provided COVID-19 training for 69 frontline staff in three health facilities. Since late February, our response has reached 63,132 beneficiaries. As programming accelerates in Venezuela, the International Medical Corps team is continuing to provide critical donations and PPE to the overtaxed healthcare systems. The team continues to actively coordinate with UN agencies, INGOs, key health officials and mayors of municipalities, and directors of health facilities in Miranda and Bolivar states.