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Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Get the latest updates from our programs in the field internationally and here in the United States.  

  • Field Photos: Conflict in Iraq

    by Katie Carroll | Sep 30, 2014

    Due to intense fighting and the violent persecution of ethnic and religious minorities by the Islamic State in Iraq, more than 1.8 million people have been displaced within Iraq. MTI's Director of Emergency Relief & Global Security Roger Sandberg recently visited Erbil in Kurdistan Iraq to coordinate a plan with local partners to assist those displaced by the conflict.

    Here are some photos from his trip:

    A young friend who lives in the basement of an unfinished mall with 100 other families.

    Inside a church, where two families' "homes" are divided by a bench.

    A family from Qaraqosh.

    A local church.  People living in the sanctuary of a church.  One office is now a primary health clinic and the other office is a pharamacy.  The church is doing food distributions for two meals a day.

    A Christian couple from Qaraqosh.  What they wear is all they have, and this is where they sleep.  They have nothing else.  She saved her wedding ring by wiping hiding it in a tissue she used to wipe her face.


    Please join us in praying for those affected by the conflict. Thank you.

  • Field Highlight: Herlinda in Guatemala

    by Katie Carroll | Sep 29, 2014

    Meet Herlinda, a Mother Counselor in Guatemala!

    Herlinda (38) lives in Paapá with her husband José and their three children: Edgar Rolando (21), Floricelda María (18), and Darwin Jeremy (6). Paapá is an hour outside of Cobán and is the largest community that MTI works with in the municipality of San Juan Chamelco, with 263 families and a total population of 1,397.

    Prior to beginning as a volunteer with MTI, Herlinda only dedicated her time to caring for her home and children. Now she said she participates in monthly health education trainings and as a woman she feels fulfilled having 10 families in her care and being in charge of giving them advice on the care of women, children, and home hygiene. Herlinda noted that she performs home visits to reinforce the health topics and says she is very well known in the community for the work that she does. She also said that the families in her care are stronger, and that when the day comes that MTI is no longer working in the community they will be able to continue practicing nutrition and hygiene practices.



    Regarding her own family, Herlinda noted that before receiving the fuel-efficient, ventilated stove from MTI her family suffered from respiratory infections but they no longer experience this thanks to the stove. As a result of her participation and training, Herlinda said she is familiar with a number of health themes, and that her children no longer suffer from pneumonia and diarrhea because her family practices good hygiene within the home, hand-washing, and a healthy diet.

    Herlinda told MTI staff that the training that she has been given from MTI health coordinators has helped her as an individual as she is no longer afraid to speak in public. She said she is happy to belong to the network of Mother Counselors in her community, and is motivated by to help mothers in Paapá and educate the families in her care on the health topics she receives.

    Within her community Herlinda said that MTI has strengthened leadership that participates in training sessions, and that religious leaders now help offer families information about the care of their children and mothers. Together, the village is working for the development of the community.

    You are changing lives through your gifts to our Community Health programs! You are providing sustainable development programs that are transforming the lives of Guatemalan families. Thank you!

    Story by Brittn Grey
  • Field Photos: MTI's Ebola Response in Liberia

    by Katie Carroll | Sep 26, 2014

    Thank you for your gifts to our Ebola response programs.  Our staff in Liberia sent us photos yesterday from the field.  See your gifts in action!

    At the health center in PTP Camp, Zwedru, Grand Gedah County.


    Patients are triaged before going into the general waiting area. Those with fever or other symptoms similar to Ebola are either tested for other illnesses, such as malaria, or receive further investigation. This child had a fever so they are being tested for malaria by rapid test.


    Staff holding temperature checks at the health center in Montserrado County where the teams are conducting infection prevention and control (IPC) assessments.


    Staff travelling into the field.

    Our Liberian staff.


  • Why Are So Few Emergency Response Teams Working Against Ebola?

    by Katie Carroll | Sep 25, 2014

    This post is unedited and republished with permission from

    by Roger Sandberg, Director, Emergency Relief and Global Security at MTI

    Ebola could infect a million or more people — unless experienced organizations form strategic partnerships now.

    In this week’s Ebola news, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) predicted that we could see as many as 1.4 million Ebola cases in January 2015. That’s how most Ebola news works: Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol aside, in the Western media Ebola is not a story of individual human suffering, but a story of numbers. The numbers of infected, the number of reported cases, the fatality rate, the number of dead. The Ebola story captures the poignancy of Stalin’s famous quote: “One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”

    As someone who spends his days working on crisis management in some of the world’s most vulnerable situations, I can tell you that if we are going to use numbers and statistics to discuss Ebola, we better be sure that we are using the correct math. So far, the response to Ebola has been one based on addition. How many additional Ebola treatment centers are needed? How many additional beds? How many additional doctors or nurses? How much additional funding? It is all about addition.

    But Ebola is not about addition. It is about multiplication. Indeed, it is more like compound interest. For every person who is contracting the disease in Liberia, at least 1.5 people — and as many as 3 or 4 — are being infected. If we’re going to get ahead of Ebola, we have to reduce that number to less than 1.

    By current estimates, in Liberia there are 350 to 400 beds at Ebola treatment centers; those beds are for an estimated need of 2,000. There are 50 to 70 new cases a day, a rate that is doubling every 15 to 20 days. Given a 50 to 60 percent case fatality rate, another 30 to 40 beds are needed each day. By the time 2,000 beds have been added, Ebola will have multiplied further. We are now seeing projections of 50,000 cases by November, 500,000 by early January, and, again, up to 1.4 million by late January.

    The sooner we can understand Ebola’s multiplication, the sooner we can get ahead of it.

    Even tripling our response is not going to get us out in front of Ebola. We need a concerted effort from multiple NGOs working together. . .

    What do we need that we are currently not seeing? A concerted effort by the international community and by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The NGO I work for, Medical Teams International (MTI), is doubling our response right now, but that will not get us out ahead of this outbreak. Even tripling our response is not going to get us out in front of Ebola. We need a concerted effort from multiple NGOs working together — including the many NGOs that have decided not to organize on-the-ground efforts in Liberia.

    Due to the risks associated with Ebola, many emergency response organizations have declined to respond to this deadly outbreak. Normally, emergency relief organizations show up in emergency situations — that is what they are trained to do. But it’s different with Ebola, because Ebola carries so much risk for those who help. Most of the organizations in Liberia today are ones that were there before the Ebola outbreak.

    Those organizations need more staff and more resources. Boots on the ground is the issue, not military boots (although 3,000 of them are headed over). We need humanitarian boots — organizations and staff with emergency response experience and tropical disease experience — to partner with the organizations that are responding, especially Medical Teams International (MTI), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Save the Children, Samaritan’s Purse, Concern Worldwide, and Action Against Hunger (ACF).

    This small handful of organizations needs partnerships with other NGOs that can share well-trained staff and resources. Call us. Send your experienced people. They can wear your t-shirt and represent your organization. We just need their help. If we’re going to tackle Ebola, we all must step forward together in a unified front.

    Ebola is one of the most serious threats I’ve yet seen. In the face of multiplying danger, our efforts must be multiplied — or we will pay the cost.

  • Staff Story: On the Front Lines of the Ebola Fight

    by Katie Carroll | Sep 19, 2014

    Michael O'Brien is MTI Africa Health Advisor. He recently wrote to share the need for medical supplies in Liberia.  Patients sick with Ebola or other urgent-care medical issues are being turned away by clinics due to lack of protective supplies.

    This morning I rode out with one of the Infection Prevention and Control Teams. I wanted to get a sense of how they were assessing the health facilities, what they were communicating, how they were received. Our teams completed their assessments of the government facilities a few weeks ago and now are finishing the assessments on the 200 plus private health facilities.

    We visited a private health facility that the inner-city community really depended on for health care. The facility was down a narrow alley, and there was the drone of diesel generators.  There were several patients waiting to enter the facility. We asked some Coca Cola vendors stationed in the alley if the clinic was open and where was the Officer in Charge (OiC). One of the vendors went and retrieved the Officer in Charge, who was a nurse, and she told us that the facility actually wasn't seeing patients. Only people waiting to receive their results from previous health screenings required by various embassies for visa requirements were being seen. Still, the nurse opened the clinic and we were able to go upstairs to ask her some questions.

    The nurse was joined by a laboratory technician and our team asked them about their Infection Prevention and Control for the clinic when they were seeing patients. We also asked them why they had stopped treating people. The nurse told us that it was because the clinic didn't have the Personal Protective Equipment suits (the space suits) needed to work where there is a risk of Ebola infection. I asked them "if you had the suits, would you reopen" and they told me "yes, they would start seeing patients again."

    "If we had the Personal Protective Equipment suits, we would start seeing patients again." - Officer in Charge, Liberian Clinic

    According to my plan, I should have been able to give them the suits right there on the spot and they should have been able to reopen. The problem is that we are out of suits. The supplies into Liberia have been slow and a lot of the items we need to keep health workers and patients safe are running out of stock. Our staff if even having a hard time finding chlorine power to make disinfectant for our own use.

    The lack of supplies has caused the closure of almost 20 percent of the 140 health facilities that we have assessed so far. 

    As our team was on its way out of the clinic a man carrying a little boy ran to the door, seemingly in need of urgent care. The clinic security man just held up his hand and said "Sorry, we aren't seeing any patients."

    MTI is mobilizing to ship pallets to Liberia now. Shipments include Personal Protective Equipment kits (PPEs), gloves, and body bags. Your donation today will help save lives! You are making a difference!

    Shipment bound for Liberia

    Volunteers in our Distribution Center stack boxes of equipment bound for Liberia as part of our Ebola response.

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