In the three months following the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti’s capital, Direct Relief International has delivered emergency medical assistance valued at more than $34.8 million (wholesale) to more than 30 healthcare providers. Having worked in Haiti since 1964, Direct Relief had strong relationships with the country’s largest hospitals and clinics, allowing us to rapidly deploy resources to where they were needed most. This resulted in a massive response of over 226 tons of specifically requested medicines and supplies.
Immediately following the earthquake, Direct Relief’s partner facilities were overwhelmed with hundreds of patients, volunteers, and unsolicited donations. For the first time in our history, Direct Relief opened an in-country warehouse to help work around Haiti’s logistical bottlenecks. This staging area between our Santa Barbara headquarters and the final recipient allows Direct Relief staff on the ground in Haiti to manage our assistance and control the supply chain, taking the logistical burden off the healthcare facilities and allowing them to focus on patient care, not trucking and warehousing.
An estimated that 1.3 million people in Haiti are displaced and living in compromised shelter and are vulnerable to the most basic health concerns related to compromised water and sanitation systems. Direct Relief continues to support the material needs of healthcare providers to help bolster their ability to stave off epidemics during the coming rainy season. Direct Relief also plans to increase its Hurricane Preparedness Program to include distribute needed aid to five facilities in Haiti, up from three in 2009.
While international aid groups have received large donations for Haiti, many smaller community groups still struggle to access funding. Direct Relief has committed $500,000 to a Community Grant Fund that will give local Haitian nongovernmental organizations and community groups access to cash grants of up to $25,000. These grants will ensure that local groups working in Haiti before the earthquake aren’t overlooked.
Building on the success of the prosthetics and orthotics program created in Pakistan following the 2005 earthquake, Direct Relief is committing $2 million to help rebuild Haiti’s long-term rehabilitation capacity. Partnering with local groups, Direct Relief will leverage solid relationships with international experts to help establish effective and sustainable prosthetic and orthotic centers, and see that these local organizations have the resources to train Haitians in the skills they need to staff these centers. This will establish a legacy of care in Haiti, helping people long after the immediate response to the earthquake has given way to the everyday reality of health care in Haiti.