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Global Update: Medical Support for Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, the U.S. and More

A look at recent global activity from Direct Relief.



Direct Relief activity this week included the departure of temperature-sensitive insulin for charitable pharmacies in the United States, including Welvista, a charitable pharmacy in South Carolina. The departure was one of 667 shipments to depart Direct Relief's warehouse over the past seven days. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)

In Summary

  • Covid-19 has caused oxygen shortages around the world. Direct Relief is providing more than $20 million in medical aid and funding to increase access to this vital resource.
  • The consortium CAF-Africa, anchored by $10 million in funds from Direct Relief, has distributed more than 121 million units of PPE across the continent.
  • In partnership with the International Diabetes Federation, Direct Relief has delivered $155 million in medical aid for patients with diabetes in 26 countries, including Syria, Afghanistan, and others experiencing humanitarian crises.
  • As the Ukraine crisis heats up, a Direct Relief shipment containing $5.4 million in medical aid is en route to the country.

Top Stories

A Short Documentary from Direct Relief — “This Bus is an Angel Bus”

The situation: On a frigid Chicago night, a film crew with Direct Relief joined the nonprofit Night Ministry as they cared for their fellow Chicagoans living on the city’s streets.

The context: The Night Ministry was recently awarded $250K from Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity, with support from the AbbVie Foundation, for its mobile outreach program, which extends medical and social services to people sleeping in trains, tent encampments and streets across Chicago.

The Big Picture: The organization is among nearly 100 groups to receive funding from Direct Relief through its Fund for Health Equity. The fund was launched last year with an initial $75 million to support community health centers, free and charitable clinics, educational institutions and other community-based organizations fighting the inequities that further health disparities.

Confronting the Global Oxygen Shortage

A provider at Dhulikhel Hospital cares for a patient receiving oxygen. (Photo courtesy of Dhulikhel Hospital)

The situation: Even before the pandemic, medical-grade oxygen shortages were common. But Covid-19 spikes have caused oxygen crises in countries around the world.

The response: Direct Relief has already invested more than $15 million in responding to Covid-19-related oxygen shortages. Now, the organization is committing an additional $5 million to develop resilient, efficient oxygen sources in low-resource settings.

The impact: “The advantage of a group like Direct Relief is lives saved,” said one expert on the global oxygen crisis.

For Community Health Workers in Sub-Saharan Africa, a Vital Resource

A pharmacy assistant in Mozambique wears PPE as he prepares and packs shipments of essential medicines to be distributed. More than 121 million pieces of PPE have been distributed to community health workers since the beginning of the pandemic. (Photo by Denis Onyodi)

The situation: Community health workers provide essential health care to 400 million people across Africa, offering vaccinations, maternal and child health care, and other services. Despite their vital role, they have often been the last in line to receive PPE.

The response: The Covid-19 Action Fund for Africa (CAF-Africa), for which Direct Relief has provided funding, sourcing, and ocean logistics, was created to rapidly scale up the procurement and delivery of PPE to community health workers. A recent third round of aid distributed 40 million additional units of PPE to workers in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The impact: “As Covid-19 cases continue and variants emerge, protection for community health workers is imperative,” said Thomas Tighe, President and CEO of Direct Relief. “Direct Relief is privileged to support the public health effort with infusions of PPE.”

As Global Diabetes Rises, Direct Relief Supports Treatment, Maintenance

A young woman watches as a syringe is prepared during a diabetes education day in Bamako, Mali, pre-Covid. (Photo courtesy of Life for a Child)

The situation: Diabetes is particularly challenging to manage in low-resource settings, and it’s on the rise globally. Approximately 537 million adults are living with the chronic condition, and that number is expected to increase to 783 million by 2045.

The response: Working in partnership with the International Diabetes Federation, Direct Relief has delivered over $155 million in medical aid intended for patients living with diabetes. That aid has been shipped to 26 countries, including Afghanistan, Haiti, Syria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The impact: Direct Relief is now delivering over a million vials, pens, or cartridges of insulin every single year to tens of thousands of underserved patients, along with other essential support.

Providing Support to Ukraine Amid Crisis

Charity Fund Modern Village and Town Volunteers Mykola and Sergiy unload a truck with Cefriaxon to the charity’s storage facility (Photo courtesy of Charity Fund Modern Village and Town)

The situation: The world’s eyes are on Ukraine as the Eastern European country awaits the possibility of a Russian attack.

The response: Direct Relief is providing routine support to the country. Most recently, the organization sent $5.4 million in medical aid to a Ukrainian NGO that’s a long-term Direct Relief partner. This shipment included mental health and cardiovascular medications, IV fluids, and more.

The impact: The NGO serves local Ukrainian hospitals, ambulance stations, and medical centers.

In Brief

The United States

  • Over the past two weeks, Direct Relief has made 871 shipments to 540 healthcare organizations in 45 states and territories, totaling $19.6 million in value and more than 30,000 lbs.
  • During the same period, $425,000 in grants was distributed.
  • A new $50,000 grant will support Black and Indigenous midwifery students with tuition and mentorship.
  • A $2.5 million grant for infectious disease treatment and prevention has just completed its first of two years. Eleven health care providers have reached more than 100,000 patients thus far and delivered nearly 200,000 vaccines.
  • In preparation for hurricane season, Direct Relief is sending approximately 70 Hurricane Preparedness Packs throughout storm-prone areas of the U.S.

Around the World

  • Direct Relief has sent 41 shipments to 42 organizations in 23 countries in the past two weeks, totaling $34.2 million in value and 680,000 lbs.
  • More than $788,000 was granted during the same period.
  • To support North Macedonia as it increases testing at primary and secondary schools, Direct Relief is providing 124,000 rapid antigen tests.
  • Direct Relief is funding the construction of a new cold storage room for the Ministry of Health of Nepal. The new cold room will provide more than a 500% increase to the Ministry’s current cold chain capacity.
  • A cervical cancer screening program in Nepal is underway, with 782 women receiving screenings thus far.
  • A new collaboration will support breast cancer survivors in Mexico with breast reconstruction surgery in public sector hospitals as part of their comprehensive treatment.
  • Direct Relief’s work on oxygen support to countries around the globe is featured in the publication GasWorld.

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