Global Update: Hurricane and Wildfire Response, the Fund for Health Equity

Emergency medical supplies, including wound care, antibiotics and chronic disease medications, depart Direct Relief's warehouse for health providers responding to Hurricane Ida. The shipments included medical support for Rapides Primary Health Care Center in Alexandria, Louisiana, as well as CORE Response. Both organizations are conducting medical outreach and providing care to storm impacted communities. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)

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Hurricane Ida Relief Efforts Underway

Baseline luminosity in and near New Orleans on August 25, 2021 with health center sites as circle points. Many portions of the map have gone dark since Ida swept through, and Direct Relief is working to provide health centers and free clinics with medical support and backup power options to continue patient care. (NASA Image/ Direct Relief analysis)

The situation: Hurricane Ida made landfall on the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane, causing widespread power and communications outages.

The response: Direct Relief has pledged $1 million to Hurricane Ida response efforts and is preparing to deploy backup power solutions such as solar-powered refrigerators to health care organizations. The organization is also making its extensive medical inventory available to Gulf Coast healthcare organizations. CrisisReady, a joint initiative between Direct Relief and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is working to understand better how power outages affect vulnerable residents.

The impact: The funding, backup power options, research and analysis, and medical inventory are designed to help on-the-ground groups provide medical aid to displaced or affected communities in the wake of the disaster.


Responding to California Wildfires

Engines respond to the Caldor Fire, a blaze that has caused more than 22,000 residents to evacuate the Lake Tahoe area. Fires across California and the Western U.S. are active, and Direct Relief is supporting local health facilities with medical aid. (U.S. National Forest Service photo)

The situation: The Dixie and Caldor Fires have burned hundreds of thousands of California acres and caused untold damage to homes and health, with more wildfires burning around the country.

The response: Direct Relief is committing an initial $1 million to support safety net providers and responders in fire-affected communities. The organization is coordinating with partners to assess community health needs and work on mapping and analyzing wildfire risk, social vulnerability, and population movement in areas affected by fires.

The impact: The goal is to meet the health-related needs of fire-affected communities across the United States.


Addressing Inequities in Health Care Access

Dr. Nathan Lin (right), a medical resident, prepares a Covid-19 vaccine for a street medicine patient. Lin works with the Night Ministry, which provides health care and supportive services to Chicago’s unsheltered homeless population. The organization received financial support from the Fund for Health Equity to expand its efforts. (Courtesy photo)

The situation: Members of minority groups and other underserved communities experience worse health outcomes and have less access to health care than the general population – longstanding inequities that the Covid-19 pandemic has only compounded.

The response: Direct Relief established the Fund for Health Equity to provide funding to on-the-ground organizations fighting these inequities. The first grant recipients, funded by Direct Relief and the AbbVie Foundation, have been announced.

The impact: The first round of funding supports ten health centers and free and charitable clinics to diversify the health care workforce, reduce disparities, and establish or expand innovative care models.


Boosting Vaccine Confidence in the U.S.

Direct Relief’s Associate Director of Pharmacy & Clinical Affairs, Alycia Clark, prepares a Covid-19 vaccine. Vaccine acceptance rates vary across the U.S., and Direct Relief and Facebook worked together on a recent messaging campaign to encourage vaccination and information seeking from medical professionals. (Direct Relief photo)

The situation: While most people in the U.S. are planning to get vaccinated against COVID-19, some are holding out. They might need more information o distrust public health recommendations based on past experiences. While the reasons vary, the result is that more people are unnecessarily getting sick and ending up in hospitals.

The response: In partnership with Facebook’s Data for Good team, Direct Relief launched an online campaign to promote the Covid-19 vaccine in the United States. The campaign reached approximately 2 million adults ages 18-40 in states with low vaccine confidence.

The impact: A survey of people who saw the campaign found that particular messages effectively combat vaccine hesitancy. The ads that spoke to social norming, social responsibility, and vaccine safety performed the best. The campaign results were published on Direct Relief’s website as a resource to help others design future message strategies.


Supporting Haiti in Earthquake Aftermath

Personal protective equipment, or PPE, and other requested medical aidf is loaded onto a flight for delivery to Haiti from Puerto Rico. (Photo by Jose Jimenez Tirado for Direct Relief)

The situation: Responders continue to provide aid in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.2 Haiti earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people and affected many thousands more.

The response: Direct Relief has approved more than $1 million in emergency grants for health care personnel responding to the Haiti earthquake. Seventy-nine tons of critical medical supplies, including PPE, wound care, medical-grade freezers, and other items, were shipped to the country via a dedicated FedEx charter flight.

The impact: In total, more than 192 pallets of Direct Relief medical aid are in Haiti, en route, or ready for deployment.


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