Direct Relief Medical Aid Supports Cyclone Aila Response


Direct Relief’s consignment of medical aid delivered in advance of cyclone season has been activated in response to Cyclone Aila, which struck May 25, displacing more than 500,000 people in Bangladesh. A 40-foot ocean container of medical supplies and medicines, valued at $477,780 (wholesale), was delivered May 13 to Sangkalpa Trust in advance of cyclone season. The consignment included materials specifically needed during cyclone response, including antibiotics, analgesics, syringes, wheelchairs, autoclaves, oral rehydration solutions, pediatric nutritionals, and personal care products.

Direct Relief’s Asia program officer Matt MacCalla was in Bangladesh when Cyclone Aila hit, on a follow-up assessment trip with partners who responded to 2007’s Cyclone Sidr. That response informed Direct Relief’s Cyclone Preparedness Program, launched earlier this year, and identified trusted partners well suited to cyclone- and flood-oriented emergency response in the region, including Sangkalpa Trust.

Nongovernmental, apolitical Sangkalpa Trust was founded in 1984 expressly to provide aid to people in Bangladesh affected by cyclones, which recur every year. Sangkalpa Trust is headquartered in Patharghata, in the southern part of the country near the Bay of Bengal, where cyclones strike most often. It establishes temporary medical clinics among displaced populations following cyclones, in addition to providing shelter, clothing, clean water, education, and legal services. Its regular catchment area includes 126,000 people, and extends to 500,000 when a cyclone strikes.

Cyclone Aila’s 60-mile-an-hour winds and heavy rain have uprooted trees, damaged homes, and caused massive flooding in Bangladesh’s low-lying southern delta region. Fishermen and families living along the coastline have been most affected by the cyclone, a cycle that repeats every year. Sangkalpa Trust reports seeing an influx of patients with injuries among the displaced, and is preparing to treat an increase in waterborne diseases that typically follow floods.

Tapping into emergency-designated funds, Direct Relief is providing additional emergency aid to support Sangkalpa Trust’s temporary clinics among the displaced in Bangladesh, and to partners in India caring for cyclone-affected people.

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