International Medical Corps considers women’s and children’s health a key priority for healthy communities. Because women constitute the foundation of both families and communities, their well-being is essential for the success of those around them. Protecting that well-being is a central challenge of women’s and children’s health in most communities.
We work with communities and local health authorities to improve the health of expectant women by offering safe motherhood services that include antenatal care, safe delivery by skilled birth attendants, quality care for obstetric and newborn emergencies, post-natal care and family planning that stresses healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies. Furthermore, we contribute to better health outcomes and reduction of common childhood illnesses and deaths, through programs that include vaccinations against communicable diseases; growth monitoring; early-childhood development interventions; and community-based case management of common childhood illnesses. Many of our programs are designed to include youth, because young boys and girls in their adolescence have special health-related needs.
In times of crisis, when traditional social codes protecting women can easily break down, women, adolescent girls and young children become more vulnerable to abuse, rape or sexual exploitation. We offer culturally appropriate services to combat gender-based violence, and work to reduce forms of violence rooted in gender discrimination. We also provide medical interventions for survivors of rape.
Areas of Focus
During an emergency, protracted crisis, early recovery or development, International Medical Corps and its affiliates provide and/or support a wide range of services to reduce maternal and newborn illnesses and deaths. These services include:
- a Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP), implemented during the onset of crisis to prevent and manage the consequences of sexual violence, prevent excess maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality, reduce HIV transmission and plan for comprehensive reproductive health services beginning in the early days and weeks of an emergency;
- family planning programming, including emergency contraception;
- maternal and newborn health, including basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric care; essential newborn care; antenatal, delivery and post-natal care; clean delivery kits; immunisations; and post-abortion care, including management of complications resulting from unsafe abortion and miscarriage, and referral for psychosocial support;
- sexual health, including prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and reproductive-tract infections through community-level action such as providing education and condoms; clinical case management (commonly the syndromic approach), detection and treatment of cervical cancer; and prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, including prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV; and
- adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
Children depend on their families and their communities for well-being in all aspects of their lives—a reality that makes the health of children in every society a good proxy indicator for a functioning healthcare system that caters to all.
Globally, there has been progress in reducing the number of children who die before their fifth birthday. Despite this progress, the Millennium Development Goal target for reducing child deaths was not met by the 2015 target date, underscoring the need to do more to achieve this goal. The majority of cases of under-5 deaths are due to diseases that are preventable or treatable using proven, affordable and cost-effective methods.
We work at the community level to support the sustainable delivery of proven child-health practices, such immunisations, growth monitoring, nutrition services, consultations for common diseases and integrated community-based case management of common childhood illnesses.
Gender-based violence is a pervasive public health and human rights problem, affecting the physical and psychological health of survivors, as well as the health and well-being of families and communities. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to violence in emergency settings, when risks are compounded at the very time when support systems are interrupted. International Medical Corps works with communities to address these risks, and to combat beliefs and practices that perpetuate violence against women and girls. We are also a leading agency in the delivery of quality, focused support services for survivors of GBV. We tailor support services to different cultures and contexts, helping survivors to recover from traumatic experiences and safely reintegrate into communities.