Since its inception, one priority has set International Medical Corps apart from other relief groups: its emphasis on strengthening capacity. Our worldwide humanitarian efforts are defined by the intense commitment to give disaster-stricken communities the strength and skills to meet their own primary health care needs.
Our mission draws us to the most dangerous and challenging environments in the world. Sudden-onset natural or man-made disasters frequently require our response in otherwise stable, self-sufficient, if poor, countries. But the majority of our work takes place in chronically insecure environments – wracked by human devastation caused by war, displacement, hunger and disease – with little existing infrastructure.
One of the greatest challenges we face is that most donors do not support a longer-term response to these complex emergencies. Aid to fragile states is twice as volatile as aid to other states, even when conflicts and other factors are taken into consideration. It is difficult to sustain programs designed to strengthen health systems (which are long-term in nature).
We build capacity by making education and training an integral part of our programs, whether it is primary health care, HIV/AIDS and infectious disease, nutrition and agriculture, water and sanitation, or livelihoods and microfinance. We also work closely with host government agencies and partner with local non-government organizations to strengthen the health care infrastructure at all levels. Our focus on strengthening capacity not only fosters self-reliance, but it also builds the kind of confidence, pride, and self-esteem essential for political stability and successful development.
Our unique hallmark is medical training and capacity building in emergency settings at all levels along the continuum of care. We train and empower community health workers, laboratory technicians, skilled birth attendants, emergency medical technicians, midwives, nurses at varying skill levels, physicians, pharmacists, anesthesiologists, specialists, surgeons, hospital administrators, and policy makers within local, provincial, and national government ministries.