International Medical Corps, Santa Monica, CA, USA
International Medical Corps (IMC), based in California, is a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs. Established in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses, IMC is a private, voluntary, nonpolitical, nonsectarian organization. Its mission is to improve the quality of life through health interventions and related activities that build local capacity in underserved communities worldwide. By offering training and health care to local populations and medical assistance to people at highest risk, and with the flexibility to respond rapidly to emergency situations, IMC rehabilitates devastated health care systems and helps bring them back to self-reliance.
IMC has gone on to provide life-saving care in more than 45 countries worldwide, responding to nearly every emergency in the last two decades. It deploys quickly in emergencies and then stays on to teach life-saving skills, so that people locally can become self-reliant. Its training assures continuity and a new level of care for those impacted by conflict, tragedy and extreme poverty. Based upon its history of collaborative work, IMC has been admitted into official relationship status with the World Health Organization to act in consultation and coordination in carrying out international health work. IMC focuses on the delivery of community-based primary health care. It emphasizes training and education, and prioritizes hiring local staff – in fact, 96% of field-based staff and health professionals are recruited from the local community. This helps to ensure that skills and knowledge are passed on and remain long after IMC's programs have ended. Through the integration of specialties like emergency medicine, women’s health, nutrition services, water and sanitation, and mental health into the primary health care setting, IMC ensure that those it serves receive holistic, comprehensive care.
Links to the health workforce crisis
IMC changed the very definition of relief. During its very first mission, IMC put action into words — it gave local people the tools and knowledge to help themselves beyond an existing crisis. IMC's 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. It does this by making education and training an integral part of its programs, whether it is primary health care, HIV/AIDS and infectious disease, nutrition and agriculture, water and sanitation, or livelihoods and microfinance. IMC also works closely with host government agencies and partners with local non-government organizations to strengthen the health care infrastructure at all levels. IMC's focus on capacity building not only fosters self-reliance, but it also builds the kind of confidence, pride, and self-esteem essential for political stability and successful development.
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