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AmeriCares and International Medical Corps Airlift Relief for Cholera Outbreak In Iraq
Date:10/4/2007

STAMFORD, Conn., Oct. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AmeriCares and International Medical Corps (IMC) are delivering critical medicines to Iraq in an emergency airlift responding to the cholera outbreak in that country.

Cholera and other forms of dehydrating watery diarrhea have spread through northern Iraq recently, affecting some 30,000 people there. The first cholera cases were reported in Baghdad at the end of September. According to healthcare workers in the country, there is a shortage of medicines to control these disease(s) that can spread widely and rapidly. Cholera is a severe intestinal disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae that causes a massive loss of fluid and is deadly within hours if not treated. It is spread by contaminated water or food. The cholera and diarrhea outbreak in Iraq is related to the increasing lack and poor quality of drinking water and inadequate sewage systems.

When AmeriCares partner IMC made an urgent request for help to stem the epidemic, AmeriCares immediately donated IV solutions and purchased other medicines and medical supplies to treat the disease.

"When we heard of the grave situation in Iraq, we knew we could provide the help needed to aid these people desperate for care," said AmeriCares President and CEO Curt Welling. The total shipment, which includes antibiotics and catheters as well as IV solutions, is worth nearly $500,000 and can treat up to 6,000 patients.

"We are extremely grateful for AmeriCares swift and generous contribution to our humanitarian efforts in Iraq. After four years of work under extremely difficult conditions, International Medical Corps is well positioned to help our local partners in combating the crisis," says Nancy Aossey, President & CEO of International Medical Corps.

IMC will airlift the shipment to Iraq and will assist the Iraqi Ministry of Health with the distribution of the medicines where they are needed most. At least half of the donation will go to internally displaced communities.

In cooperation with Iraqi health authorities, International Medical Corps distributed cholera treatment supplies for over 3,000 patients at the end of August. IMC is also supporting an educational campaign on cholera prevention that is headed by the Iraqi Ministry of Health.

AmeriCares first delivered emergency aid to Iraq shortly after the Gulf War in 1991. In response to a critical need for medicines and supplies after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, AmeriCares sent emergency airlifts to Kirkuk and Baghdad, which were the first such airlifts by a U.S. nongovernmental organization.

Since 2003, International Medical Corps has been helping to restore the Iraqi health infrastructure through the rehabilitation of health structures, training of doctors, nurses, and paramedics; providing medical equipment and drug supplies to primary health care centers; re-establishing disease surveillance systems; and extending and rehabilitating water supply and purification systems. All IMC programs focus on strengthening the existing Iraqi infrastructure to avoid the creation of a parallel system in order to encourage long-term change and limit dependence on foreign assistance.

AmeriCares is a nonprofit international disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization, which provides immediate response to emergency medical needs and supports long-term humanitarian assistance programs around the world. Since it was established in 1982, AmeriCares has distributed more than $7 billion in humanitarian aid to 137 countries. For six years in a row, AmeriCares has been given a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the highest possible rating, indicating effective management practices. For more information, log onto http://www.americares.org.

Since its inception nearly 25 years ago, International Medical Corps' mission has been consistent: relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster and disease, by delivering vital health care services that focus on training. This approach of helping people help themselves is critical to returning devastated populations to self-reliance. For more information visit our website at http://www.imcworldwide.org.

CONTACT:

AMERICARES

Lisa Slow: 203-658-9557

Peggy Atherlay: 203-658-9578

International Medical Corps

Stephanie Bowen: 310-826-7800

Natalia Cieslik: 202-828-5155


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SOURCE AmeriCares
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