Direct Relief’s Top Podcasts of 2019



Father Rick Frechette and staff tend to a patient at St. Luke's Hospital in Port au Prince, Haiti. (Photo courtesy of St. Luke Foundation)
Father Rick Frechette and staff tend to a patient at St. Luke's Hospital in Port au Prince, Haiti. (Photo courtesy of St. Luke Foundation)

Within three months of launching the Direct Relief podcast, thousands have listened in to hear the voices shaping global health. The podcast has captured the stories of doctors on the front lines of humanitarian catastrophes, first responders mobilizing in the wake of disaster, and the patients they serve.

As an ode to the end of the year and a celebration of this new storytelling medium, we have rounded up Direct Relief’s top five podcasts in 2019, according to the number of total listens. From Haiti’s humanitarian crisis to climate-induced megafires, these stories are a testament to the life-altering potential of disaster and the fortitude of those who resurrect in their ruins.

5. The Climate is Changing, Now We Must Adapt

As the climate changes, communities must deal with the fallout of an increased number of climate-related disasters. In California, these disasters are shaping up as megafires. Dry, hot weather has led to more frequent fires, burning with increased intensity, with often traumatic consequences. While there’s no doubt the climate is changing, the question, now, is how to adapt.

On this episode of the podcast, leaders across a range of professions — from firefighters to habitat conservationists — come together to discuss ways communities can bolster resilience against the effects of climate change.

4. Stress Headaches and Fluttering Heartbeats. The Kincade Fire is Eroding Mental Health.

Just two years after California’s wine country was devastated by the Tubbs Fire, the region was scorched, yet again, by the Kincade Fire. The fire burned more than 75,000 acres and forced thousands to flee their homes amid a series of planned power shutoffs. While many sought refuge in hotels or second homes, others relied on evacuation shelters.

This episode takes a look inside one evacuation shelter housing some of the region’s most vulnerable residents, including the elderly, children, and undocumented workers. At the shelter, healthcare providers treated evacuees for a range of disaster-induced health conditions, from asthma to cuts and bruises. One of the most prevalent health issues? Anxiety.

3. Hurricane Dorian: What to Remember When Evacuating

In August, the Bahamas were ravaged by Hurricane Dorian—a Category 5 storm that lingered over the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama. The storm unleashed overwhelming flood waters and brutal winds that ripped through homes and swept away communities. When the storm passed, thousands of Bahamians were evacuated to the capital of Nassau, where they sheltered in temporary camps.

This episode was produced in the immediate aftermath of the storm’s assault on the Bahamas as it threatened to bear down on Florida’s panhandle. Amid the frantic response effort, Direct Relief Pharmacist Alycia Clark explained what those with health conditions should do to prepare for evacuating.

2. Rags Instead of Tampons. Here’s What Period Poverty Looks Like in the United States.

In September, a Mississippi Planned Parenthood requested pads from Direct Relief after an immigration raid financially devastated undocumented factory workers and their families. The request prompted the question: Why were women in Mississippi struggling to access basic necessities, like menstrual hygiene products? After further reporting, it became evident that the problem, coined period poverty, is larger in scope than anticipated.

Low-income women across the nation are going without menstrual hygiene products, including those in some of the country’s most affluent cities. For Nancy, a formerly homeless woman living in Santa Barbara, period poverty was just one among many challenges she faced while living on the streets. She recalls changing her tampon in dumpster enclosures and fixing rags into makeshift pads. Nancy’s story illuminates the breadth of period poverty in the United States — and gives meaning to the work of those fighting to end it.

  1. Haiti is Facing a Humanitarian Crisis. This Doctor is on the Front Lines of It.

Haiti is experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the history of the country precipitated by months of violent political protest. In this episode, Father Rick, a priest-turned-doctor treating patients at one of the country’s few operational hospitals, gives a first person account of the situation on the ground.

Providing health care in this setting is a challenge. Impassable roads and blocked supply routes have forced Fr. Rick  and other hospital staff to traverse dangerous stretches to retrieve medical supplies in shuttered warehouses, transport gunshot victims in a converted truck, and, when required, to bury the dead.

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