Since the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck China seven days ago, Direct Relief International has been hard at work to identify and support medical professionals in the affected areas of the country who need medical material and cash support in order to treat the estimated 245,000 people injured in the incident.
Worldwide strategic partner Marie Stopes International, who operates five clinics in China, is assisting in the relief process by connecting Direct Relief with major local and national partners who are in need of additional medical supplies. These partners provide a variety of medical services largely focused on maternal and child health. Due to the overwhelming number of injured people, these specialized health centers have turned into triage areas and are providing the most basic primary care services.
Direct Relief staff has also been in contact with the Chinese vice consul in Los Angeles to discuss the exact needs for medical supplies at a local level and to identify groups that may need support.
Along with coordinating with local partner organizations on immediate needs, we have also begun consulting with rehabilitation medicine experts. The injuries that arise from blunt trauma common during earthquakes, including amputations and spinal cord injuries, require long-term care.
In the aftermath of the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, for instance, thousands of emergency amputations were performed to save the lives of those caught underneath debris. Though nearly three years have passed since that earthquake, Direct Relief continues to support orthopedic and prosthetic specialists in the country, including the Pakistan Institute of Prosthetic and Orthotic Sciences.