Direct Relief Bolsters Texas Medical Safety Net, Expands Emergency Assistance to Haiti


Direct Relief today increased the pre-positioning of medicines and other essentials in Texas health centers in anticipation of Hurricane Ike’s projected landfall this weekend. As the ninth hurricane of the 2008 season storms through the Gulf, Direct Relief also boosted emergency aid to Haiti, reeling after Ike and other recent storms.

Tapping its $45 million medical inventory and emergency funds, Direct Relief today allocated additional prescription medicines and supplies to Texas’s nonprofit community clinics and health centers that serve as the medical safety net.  Direct Relief is coordinating with the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, the statewide organization with which Direct Relief formed a partnership three years ago following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Direct Relief is licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services as a “Wholesale Distributor of Prescription Drugs,” which allows the organization to provide safety net clinics with needed resources in emergencies and on an ongoing basis to assist their low-income patients without insurance for medicines.

Three shipments going out tomorrow follow on the recent delivery of 18 “hurricane packs” that were pre-positioned throughout Gulf State clinics in anticipation of hurricane evacuations and the Katrina/Rita scenario in which many evacuees sought care at clinics after being unable to obtain needed medications.

While undertaking preparatory efforts in Texas, Direct Relief is also responding to the storm’s devastating effects in Haiti. Ike’s 135-mph winds and drenching rain pummeled the Caribbean nation on September 7, killing 65 people and leaving 240,000 in Gonaives homeless with most of the city under more than six feet of water. The death toll in Haiti stands at more than 600, with numbers climbing as floodwaters recede.

Direct Relief is providing urgently needed antibiotics, vaccines, oral rehydration solutions, and personal care products to treat and prevent a variety of waterborne diseases through its existing partner network in the country.

Waterborne diseases pose the greatest threat during flooding and torrential rains. Flooded sewer systems create dangerous sanitation issues, including the spread of cholera, hepatitis A, and rotavirus. Parasitic diseases, malaria, dysentery, and dengue fever thrive in standing water.

Displaced people living in shelters are particularly at risk for a variety of waterborne diseases, due to their close proximity and stress-compromised immune systems. Direct Relief is carefully compiling appropriate medicines and supplies to treat people affected by flooding in Haiti.

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