Direct Relief will conduct the largest emergency airlift in its 65-year history this Saturday to deliver 50 tons of essential medications and emergency medical supplies to people affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The massive air shipment includes enough medicines to treat 250,000 people and will be delivered on a wide-bodied cargo aircraft flight arranged and donated by FedEx. All aid items were requested by health officials and nongovernmental groups in the Philippines.
Since the typhoon struck two weeks ago, medical aid organization Direct Relief has already delivered 10 tons of materials valued at $4 million to the Philippines through 10 emergency airfreight shipments and hand-carried items provided to medical teams traveling to the region.
The donations contain antibiotics, I.V. fluids, oral rehydration formula, wound care supplies, pain relievers, surgical instruments, nutritional supplements, hygiene kits, and chronic disease medicines. The nonprofit also provided $150,000 in emergency cash grants to support relief operations launched immediately by trusted Filipino and colleague organizations.
The typhoon’s devastating effects included significant damage or complete destruction of health facilities in its path that also eliminated stocks of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, now urgently-needed.
“Filipinos have suffered a severe calamity and need help as they organize and manage the immediate relief efforts and plan the next steps,” said Direct Relief President and CEO, Thomas Tighe. “Direct Relief’s unique licensing among nonprofits allows us manage the donation of prescription medications, and our immediate focus is responding to urgent requests for essential medications and medical supplies needed to provide health services across the affected local communities.”
Across the island nation, health needs remain high. Having visited and assessed over a dozen provincial hospitals on three affected islands, the Direct Relief emergency response team on the ground in the Philippines reports that many health concerns remain, including: wounds and injuries, waterborne diseases, inadequate hygiene, communicable diseases spread by displacement and overcrowding (such as respiratory infections), malnutrition, and others.
The organization’s private efforts in the country are being guided by close work and consultation with a broad consortium of private organizations, including the Asia America Initiative, the Philippine Red Cross, the IPI Foundation, the U.S – Philippines Society, the Philippine Hotel Reservations Service, Inc., and the Ayala Foundation to ensure proper coordination with the Government of the Philippines and its officials responsible for managing overall efforts.
The $150,000 in immediate cash grants were given to three highly respected Filipino partners on the ground to support their emergency relief operations, including: Asia America Initiative, the Zuellig Foundation, and the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation. The emergency cash grants allow these local groups to continue supporting families affected with basic needs such as nutritional support, clean water, and medical care
Direct Relief’s emergency response team is working with senior Filipino officials, Filipino nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and other NGOs to sort through logistics channels and roles among the numerous organizations involved in the response. As new information becomes available each day, the team is better able to assess health needs and tailor Direct Relief’s ongoing response effectively.