Direct Relief International is preparing its first airlift of specifically requested medical aid to China in response to May’s 8.0-magnitude earthquake.
This initial shipment of support will be received by the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC) and will include basic, critical supplies including surgical instruments, sterile gloves, masks, sterilizing tape, sterilizers, and topical antibiotic ointments. Direct Relief’s Emergency Response Coordinator Brett Williams expects the materials will leave from Los Angeles International Airport early next week.
Since the earthquake shook China on May 12, the NPFPC has been providing primary care, trauma support, and psychological counseling to children and families who were impacted by the massive physical and human devastation. NPFPC’s network of facilities reaches throughout China, including the Sichuan province.
Because Direct Relief is committed to providing useful and appropriate medical aid, all prescription and nonprescription medicines provided will have labels and instructions in Chinese.
Direct Relief also plans to support the Sichuan University Hospital, which is dispatching teams of volunteer doctors to the hardest hit areas, and the Mianzhu County division of the Ministry of Health. The Mianzhu area was particularly impacted by the quake; Direct Relief program staff member John Schurrer estimated as many as 11,000 of the 80,000 total deaths in China occurred there.
Schurrer, who is fluent in Mandarin, and Williams traveled in Sichuan last week to assess the needs of the affected communities and investigate ways to support the work of responding partners. On May 28, Direct Relief staff also gave a lecture to students at Sichuan University about the humanitarian response to both the China quake and Myanmar cyclone.
In addition to addressing short-term basic medical needs, Direct Relief is arranging partnerships to assist with long-term care for people who suffered spinal cord injuries, amputations, and other blunt-trauma injuries common during earthquakes. Based on Direct Relief’s response to past earthquakes, including the 2005 Pakistan quake, the long-term need for rehabilitative services, including prosthetic and orthotic devices, is anticipated to be significant.