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Humanitarian Crisis

Direct Relief Bolsters Healthcare on U.S.-Mexico Border

Border crossings are expected to reach a record-high this month, as emergency shelters swell to capacity.

A Direct Relief staff member unloads medical aid in San Diego where thousands of migrant children will receive medical care and shelter. (Martin Calderon/Direct Relief)
A Direct Relief staff member unloads medical aid in San Diego where thousands of migrant children will receive medical care and shelter. (Martin Calderon/Direct Relief)

As a surge of migrants cross the U.S.-Mexico border, Direct Relief is supporting health facilities providing care to patients on both sides of the southwestern border.

This weekend, Direct Relief staff hand-delivered multiple caches of emergency medical supplies to San Diego, where medical services and shelter are being provided to unaccompanied minors that have crossed the border.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Convention Center has capacity for 1,450 girls who will receive daily meals and clean clothes, as well as frequent coronavirus testing.

The federal government called on healthcare providers in the area to establish a safe place to stay for hundreds of underage female migrants who would otherwise be housed in makeshift emergency shelters or Border Patrol facilities, which the Biden administration has deemed unfit for children.

Saturday’s delivery included supplies to treat trauma-related injuries, over-the-counter medications, and hundreds of individual kits containing soap, shampoo, menstrual products and other hygiene products.

In addition to providing emergency aid, Direct Relief also supports community health centers straddling the southwestern border, including San Ysidro Health, La Maestra Community Health Center, and Jewish Family Services, many of whom care for migrant patient populations. Direct Relief has equipped providers with personal protective gear and supported patient-care with chronic disease medications, nutritional supplements, and personal care items.

Direct Relief also supports providers working to treat patients south of the border, including UC San Diego’s International Health Collective–a student-run organization that holds monthly medical clinics in Tijuana. Since 2015, the group has been crossing the border to provide care to hundreds of patients using Direct Relief supplies, including personal protective equipment, chronic disease medications for high cholesterol and hypertension, and prescription drugs to treat severe infections.

Direct Relief staff is in communication with several groups responding at the border and will continue to monitor needs as the situation develops.

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