Chile Earthquake: One Year Later

The 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile on February 27, 2010 was the fifth largest in the world since 1900. It left 500 people dead and approximately 1.5 million people homeless. To help people injured in and affected by the quake, Direct Relief has provided approximately $620,500 (wholesale) worth of medical and surgical supplies, nutritional products, personal care items, and blankets to Chilean healthcare providers. These items were generously donated by some of the world’s top healthcare companies such as 3M, Abbott, GlaxoSmithKline, Miltex, and Covidien. In addition to providing critical medical supplies, Direct Relief has also awarded over $95,000 in cash grants to help rebuild the capacity of Chilean healthcare facilities that were damaged by the earthquake.

Immediately after the earthquake, Direct Relief initiated contact with in-country healthcare partners to identify their medical resources needs and worked with the Chilean Ministry of Health to identify and fill shortages of specific medications. Throughout the year following the earthquake, Direct Relief also continued to distribute medicines to help replenish the Ministry’s depleted stocks.

Direct Relief developed a strong partnership with FEDES (Fundación Educativa de Desarrollo Economico y Social), a Chilean nongovernmental organization which facilitated the efficient distribution of donated materials to where they were needed. FedEx contributed to the success of the emergency response efforts by airlifting critically needed supplies from Direct Relief to FEDES free of charge.

Aid delivery to health facilities in the most affected areas was then initiated in coordination with national and local authorities, hospital directors, and primary healthcare networks. Direct Relief sent a total of 57 pallets of medical materials in response to the earthquake. Direct Relief also provided FEDES with a $10,000 cash grant to cover the organization’s expenses in distributing aid to hard-to-reach healthcare facilities in need.
A grant of $85,290 to FEDES funded construction and repair of nine damaged health centers in Santiago. Before the earthquake, these facilities served 80,000 people monthly. Reconstruction is complete at four centers and is expected to be completed at all nine by March 31, 2011. At multiple clinics, staff and community members have volunteered their time to help in reconstruction and cleanup.

FEDES also identified a critical need for medical equipment at health centers in Lo Espejo, one of the poorest districts in Santiago. FEDES delivered medical supplies and equipment sent by Direct Relief to health centers in Lo Espejo and used Direct Relief’s cash grant to purchase critical items that were not donated. The cash grant was also used for clinic reconstruction and to fix a desperately needed ambulance that was damaged in the earthquake.

Direct Relief is continuing to support partners in Chile and is committed to infusing additional medical resources into areas most affected by the quake.

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