More Aid Planned As Experts Fear Widespread Disease Outbreaks

Twenty-four days after Cyclone Nargis struck in Myanmar, Direct Relief has successfully delivered almost $350,000 in medical material aid and targeted cash grants that are already helping individuals and families. Direct Relief is also planning to provide another $350,000 in cash support alone.

Direct Relief’s initial airlift of essential medical aid was received at the airport in Yangon and sent directly to Laputta, one of the hardest hit townships. The contents, including critically needed antibiotics, oral rehydration salts, and wound-care items, have been distributed via local clinics coordinating with Myanmar’s Ministry of Health.

The need for medical aid remains great. Direct Relief partners have confirmed that standing water and lack of sanitation are creating breeding grounds for such diseases as malaria, dengue fever, and cholera. The World Health Organization, as lead agency for the UN coordinating health cluster for the response, is putting in place early warning systems to track the spread of these diseases.

To address these needs, Direct Relief plans further support to its network of trusted partners in the country, provided that the Myanmar government maintains its eased stance on the flow of international aid into the country.

As previously reported, Direct Relief has committed $500,000 in cash and has already issued $143,000 in targeted cash grants to locally based or locally operating groups serving the medical needs of affected people. Direct Relief staff in Asia are currently evaluating local nongovernmental, professional, reputable organizations that can effectively leverage cash grants into critical aid, and are working closely with other humanitarian groups, regional bodies including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the United Nations.

According to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the official number of dead (77,738) and missing (55,917) individuals has not changed since May 16.

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