Posted in IMA Blog on April 05, 2013 by Chris Glass
|Johnie Pierre, 13, is one of thousands of Haitian children to receive shoes through the Haiti Neglected Tropical Disease Control Program. The shoes are provided through a partnership between IMA World Health and TOMS. On April 16th we're supporting TOMS and their One Day Without Shoes movement to bring awareness to the role shoes play in children’s heath and education.
IMA World Health/Rick Santos
President & CEO
Shy smiles, faint giggles, friendly waves. Every time IMA World Health visits a school — whether to distribute medicine, new shoes or both — the kids always welcome us warmly. By now, many of them recognize us and know that we come bearing gifts – gifts of good health and gifts of shoes.
That they recognize us is a very good sign; it means the children are staying in school.
Johnie Pierre, center, sits on a porch with his sister Sherline and his brother Wendi after receiving a new pair of shoes in November 2012.
IMA World Health has been distributing medicines to prevent neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Haiti since 2008 in collaboration with RTI International first as part of USAID’s NTD Control Program and now under the ENVISION project. NTDs primarily affect poor populations and cause chronic illness, disability and social stigma. In Haiti, intestinal worms (also known as soil transmitted helminths, or hookworm) are among the common NTDs that IMA works to combat. By setting up medicine distribution posts at schools and community locations with the help of thousands of trained volunteers, we reach 4.8 million people every year – many of whom are children – with these life-changing medicines.
When the opportunity arose in 2010 to partner with TOMS to distribute new shoes to children in Haiti, we knew it would be a great fit. While the medicine we distribute protects children from intestinal worms from the inside, the shoes protect them from the outside, preventing feet from coming in contact with contaminated soil. By following up our medicine distribution at schools with TOMS Shoe distributions, we’re combining two effective and complementary interventions to help keep kids healthy and allow them to learn and develop as they should.
Since 2011, as a TOMS Giving Partner IMA World Health has distributed hundreds of thousands of pairs of shoes to children in Haiti to help fight NTDs.
Johnie Pierre, 13, was one of the first children to slip on a new pair of shoes during one of our recent visits to give shoes at his school. He smiled widely as he took his first few steps to make sure his new shoes fit.
When asked about his shoes, Johnie replied that he “will wear them every day.” Some of his classmates giggled as he wondered aloud whether the shoes will help improve his soccer game. At IMA, we truly hope they do, because that would mean Johnie is healthy, active and able to continue his education – such an important part of development both for him and for all of Haiti.
As you walk around barefoot on One Day Without Shoes, conscious of every step, remember that all of this is about more than just shoes. Together, IMA and TOMS are working toward a healthier future in Haiti starting from the ground up. We’re working toward health, education, development and opportunity. And as a member of the One for One® movement, you’re helping too.
The Haiti Neglected Tropical Disease Control Program (HNTDCP) is a joint effort between the Ministry of Health and Population (MSPP), and the Ministry of Education (MENFP) to eliminate and control lymphatic filariasis and soil transmitted helminths in Haiti. The HNTDP is supported by a group of collaborating partners who currently include World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO), USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), IMA World Health, University of Notre Dame (UND), Christian Blind Mission (CBM), Partners In Health (PIH), and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). USAID support for NTD control in Haiti began in 2008 under the NTD Control Program (2006-2012) and continues under the ENVISION project (2011-2016). The ENVISION project in Haiti is implemented by IMA World Health through a cooperative agreement with RTI International.
Posted in IMA Blog on November 28, 2012 by Chris Glass
|IMA driver Philip Nyeko Darious has helped staff in South Sudan navigate difficult and dangerous roads for the past year.
By Ann Clemmer
Volunteer IMA World Health
Driving a vehicle in South Sudan, even in the capital city of Juba, can be a challenge. It takes more than a driver’s license to be a safe driver. There are road hazards beyond those commonly found in the United States, such as texting, road rage and toll booths. In South Sudan, it requires diligence and preparedness where car-jacking and roadside incendiary devices are not uncommon. One must not only stay on marked “safe” areas of the road when driving, but also carefully pick your spot when parking. (Think backing into parking places for a prompt departure, if necessary.)
Of course, there are humorous road hazards, as well. When herds of cattle head out to graze in the early morning, they travel the same roads we drive. (And they hardly stop to look both ways before crossing.) Just last week, there was an incident between a goat and a vehicle. The goat was found to be at fault, but the driver was encouraged to pay the owner the value of the goat.
IMA has several drivers who take care of the daily movement of people and material. Philip Nyeko Darious is one of those people. Philip began his driving career a little more than a year ago. Initially quiet and a timid, he now is more confident and as he takes on his daily tasks with a keen sense of humor.
The other day, he narrowly missed a cat that darted across the road and then scampered back. Pulling back into our lane, Phillip remarked, “that cat has a good brake”! IMA recently sent Philip to a training program on driving safety and security protocols.
Philip returned to work the next day with copies of his training materials anxious to share what he learned. He proudly announced that he was selected to lead a session for some of the “lesser experienced” drivers. He showed off his certificate with a beaming smile and said, “thank you IMA for making me even better to serve you.”
IMA thanks staff members, such as Phillip, for the contribution to IMA and to South Sudan, ad the country transitions from a post-conflict status to a leader amongst nations. Just as Phillip has become a leader amongst his peers.
Posted in IMA Blog on October 25, 2012 by Chris Glass
President & CEO
IMA World Health
Let’s talk about sustainability.
This spring, the USAID-funded Neglected Tropical Disease Control Program IMA supports in Haiti achieved full national coverage, a major milestone toward our goal of eliminating lymphatic filariasis by 2020. Sustainability is eliminating a disease and the need for ongoing treatment.
In July we opened five maternities in South Sudan, staffed with local health professionals we fully trained in Emergency Obstetric Care. Sustainability is creating critical health infrastructures and training health workers to use them.
Sustainability is also efficient stewardship of resources. Along with recognition for efficiency by Forbes and Charity Navigator again, this year IMA earned the Best in America Seal of Excellence from Independent Charities of America and was accepted into the Charities Under 5% Overhead group for the 2012 Combined Federal Campaign.
These long-term solutions, combined with those covered on these pages, will help provide a healthy future for millions of people. Thank you for supporting this important work, and the lasting impact we are making together!
Posted in IMA Blog on July 09, 2012 by Chris Glass
Twins born at a rural health post in Mpeefu, Uganda; 2003 Photo by Amy Metzger
By Amy Metzger
Christian Connections for International Health (CCIH)
On July 11, DFID and the Gates Foundation are bringing together heads of state, policy makers and representatives of the faith community from around the globe to meet in London to galvanize their collective support for family planning. It is an unprecedented opportunity that must be applauded for its hopes to make a lasting impact in helping families plan the number of children they want. A meeting of faith-based organizations on the day following the summit will explore the role of the faith community in family planning and how the faith-inspired voice can be lifted up to protect the health of women and families across the globe.
Many of us have lived and traveled to the world’s poorest countries and are tirelessly trying to improve health conditions from Bolivia to Burkina Faso, and from Thailand to Tanzania. And though we know the connection between health and family size, we don’t have the critical mass yet to make family planning a reality for the 215 million women who want access to family planning supplies.
The faith community has played a major role in family planning for many years. Faith-based organizations provide anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of the health care in many African nations, and many CCIH member organizations provide family planning as part of comprehensive health services. IMA World Health recently added championing family planning to the scope of its USHINDI program in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The USHINDI program, funded by USAID, helps survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and works to strengthen the capacity of women. Family planning seems an ideal addition to a program serving a nation struggling to rebuild after years of conflict.
I have lived in the developing world, and seen the dire conditions in which millions of women give birth. In 2003, while working in Uganda near the border with Lake Albert and Congo to the west, I lived with a midwife named Florence. She had few supplies and a decrepit scale to monitor the weight of the pregnant women that came for checkups, but lacked nearly everything we take for granted in our own doctors’ offices. A few times, I helped her deliver babies in a small under-equipped building next to her home. On one particular evening, a woman came in to deliver her twins. Though almost 10 years ago, I can still quickly envision the unsterile, scant room, the nauseating smell of blood. Fortunately, the woman survived and delivered two healthy babies, but I consider it almost a miracle after how much blood she lost in an area far from a hospital or proper health center, in a forgotten part of Uganda where tourist don’t roam.
As I left Uganda, I helped get electricity and water to Florence’s compound, but water and electricity alone won’t help Florence do her work successfully. She needed family planning supplies to teach a variety of family planning methods. She needed pain medicine and disinfectant to sterilize the rooms properly. She needed a safe delivery kit to include a clean blade, a piece of string, soap and a piece of plastic to serve as the delivery surface. Almost ten years later, this remote area of Uganda is still struggling to get much-needed family planning services to the communities. I wonder sometimes how many women and children have died because of the lack of family planning and health commodities.
Women around the world face obstacles that most of us can hardly begin to fathom. Lack of access to family planning leaves mothers in developing countries with no easy way to control the size of their families, and in the end, robs both the mother and her children of a better life, one that enables each to eat enough nourishing food and pursue the education that lifts communities out of poverty. Many people don’t realize that family planning actually prevents abortion and helps families to space their children in a way that will facilitate optimal health for both mother and child. Based on research conducted around the world, the World Health Organization recommends women wait two years after the birth of a child to become pregnant to protect herself, the baby, and her other children.
Please learn more about what CCIH is doing to promote family planning and pray for CCIH members like IMA World Health who are delivering health services to the underserved, and for health workers like Florence. And stop to count your blessings for being born in a place where family planning services are around the corner and water, soap, clean sheets and necessary medicines come standard at birth.
Amy Metzger is a Program Manager for Christian Connections for International Health (CCIH). CCIH promotes global health and wholeness from a Christian perspective. The organization shares information and provides a forum for dialogue, networking, advocacy, and fellowship to the spectrum of Christian organizations and individuals working in international health.
Posted in IMA Blog on June 22, 2012 by Chris Glass
Rick Santos, President & CEO of IMA World Health, and his colleagues Ann Varghese ,IMA Senior Program officer, and Jim Gulley (right) with UMCOR have their photo taken on the balcony of the rebuilt Hotel Montana in Port au Prince, Haiti last week.
IMA World Health
President & CEO
On Wednesday, June 21st, 2012 I sat with Jim Gulley from UMCOR and my IMA colleague Ann Varghese on the patio of the Hotel Montana in Port au Prince, Haiti, discussing our organizations’ health work. Two years, five months, and nine days ago—on January 12, 2010—we were supposed to sit on that very same patio and have a very similar conversation. It was nice to finally have this meeting, though three of our colleagues were missing—IMA’s Dr. Sarla Chand, who was in South Sudan doing other work, and Rev. Sam Dixon and Rev. Clint Rabb from the United Methodist Church, both of whom perished in the rubble of the Montana the last time we were supposed to meet. This time the evening was cool and clear, the view of Port au Prince spectacular, and the conversation about how to improve the health conditions of the people of Haiti, productive. This time, thankfully, the earth was still.
Rev. Samuel Dixon, Jr.
Rev. Clint Rabb
Ann, Jim and I were joined by Dr. Abdel Direny and Tom and Wendy Vencus, all three of whom were also in Haiti that fateful day that changed our lives forever. After the work conversation ended, we talked a lot about what happened when the earthquake struck. I think we retold stories we’ve probably told a hundred times before, and heard new details from Dr. Direny and the Vencuses that we had not heard before. We talked a lot about Sam and Clint and how much they meant to their families, to the Methodist Church, and to us. Jim reminded us that Sam had a wonderful sense of humor and of the jokes he told, even in the darkness and the rubble of the Montana.
For me it was a bookend to that day two years ago; it was the evening that should have been, but turned out so differently. It was a very bittersweet moment.
This is the second time I have been to Haiti since the earthquake. The first time was six months later, to visit IMA’s restarted Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Control Program, which is funded by USAID via RTI and is part of a larger national program with many partners including the Haitian Ministry of Health, CDC, and other organizations. Though the earthquake threatened to end it, this program has since achieved full national coverage and is on the road to the elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis by 2020. It is truly a remarkable program, one which costs so little—and our portion, led by Dr. Direny, has reached over four million people annually.
On that first trip back, I was amazed by how little had been done to rebuild, how tent cities were set up in the middle of rubble-filled intersections, and how the rhythm of daily life seemed to have regained a semblance of normality, yet the conditions were still horrible and anything but normal.
On this trip, two years later, much of the visible and palpable effects of the earthquake seemed to be gone. However, as I drove around Port Au Prince and the countryside, what struck me this time was the grinding poverty that has been part and parcel of pre- and post-earthquake Haiti. Even though the international community and the Haitian politicians have helped Haiti begin to put the earthquake behind it, I am not sure they have yet created the conditions to address the poverty of the Haitian people in the long run.
As a CEO of a public health organization, a person who is concerned, and a person who shares in the sorrow and loss from the earthquake with so many Haitians, I continue to hope that conditions will get better, and I am committed to working towards that end. I would like to think the Haitian people and politicians can work with United States Government, the international community, NGOs, and the private sector to overcome the crippling cycle of poverty in Haiti. Sitting on the patio of the Hotel Montana, this is what my colleagues and I hope and pray for. As I come to terms with what should have been all those months ago, I can’t help but turn my thoughts toward what’s to come. If we can each do our part well to turn the tides of poverty in Haiti, I think that is something both Sam and Clint would be quite proud of.