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Direct Relief Commits $3 Million for Turkey and Syria Earthquake Response

Latest infusion of cash support comes as medical aid departs for the region.


Turkey-Syria Earthquake 2023

More than 100 field medic packs for Turkish search and rescue organization, AKUT, are staged for shipment from Direct Relief's warehouse on February 9, 2023. The shipment also contains 500 personal care kits for people who have been displaced from their homes after a devastating earthquake and aftershocks impacted the region. The shipment is the latest to depart for Turkey and shipments for Syria departed earlier this week. (Tony Morain/Direct Relief)

Direct Relief today upped its financial commitment to $3 million for response efforts in Syria and Turkey following the deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Monday morning.

Today’s announcement comes after $200,000 was issued earlier this week by Direct Relief—$100,000 to AKUT, the leading search and rescue team in Turkey with over 400 staff and volunteers, and $100,000 to the Syrian American Medical Society, which operates health facilities in northwest Syria treating patients impacted by the quake.

The increased funding commitment is possible because of the spontaneous outpouring of public support that has occurred this week, including over 10 thousand contributions from more than 70 countries and all 50 U.S. states through Direct Relief’s website and pledges made by several corporations.

“The massive scale of destruction, tragic loss of life, and enormous needs and ongoing threats that arose in the course of a few moments this week call for a response that is commensurate with the circumstances,” said Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief’s President and CEO. “The actions of private people and businesses around the world to participate in the assistance effort help enormously and are inspiring to see.”

Direct Relief’s emergency response approach is two-pronged, with financial support to bolster immediate rescue efforts and medical material to backstop stressed health facilities in the region.

An infusion of more than nine tons of requested medical supplies, including 100 field medic packs for triage care, departed Direct Relief’s warehouse on February 8 for multiple groups in the region, including the Syrian American Medical Society, Syrian Relief and Development, and the Independent Doctor’s Association.

More medical aid shipments are scheduled to depart Direct Relief warehouses in the U.S. and the Netherlands and include antibiotics, wound care dressings, protective gear and other requested medical resources.

The region contains a large population of internally displaced people and refugees at particular risk of disaster and impacts from interrupted power, health services, food and water access, and limited shelter.

Health concerns in the immediate phase of the response are numerous. Crush injuries and wounds can lead to severe infections without proper care. Debris and airborne particulates can cause or worsen respiratory and ocular conditions. Contaminated water can lead to gastrointestinal illness and spark or exacerbate cholera outbreaks, like in Syria, where the disease has infected tens of thousands over the past year.

Cardiovascular, kidney and respiratory diseases and diabetes were among the primary causes of death in Turkey and Syria before the earthquake. In the coming days and weeks, acute medical needs are likely to include medications for chronic diseases, without which someone who relies on them can quickly find themselves in a crisis.

Besides infrastructure damage and population displacement preventing people from accessing medication, power outages often compromise the integrity of cold-chain drugs while simultaneously decreasing the ability to communicate with providers. Transportation restrictions and infrastructure damage will limit access to pharmacies and other medication refill channels.

In response, Direct Relief is working to secure and deliver large quantities of diabetes, cardiovascular, asthma and other chronic disease medications.

Direct Relief is modeling potential quantities needed on baseline disease rates, with examples of rates in Turkey and Syria before the earthquake: hypertension 30-40%, diabetes 14-15%, epilepsy 0.5-1.4%.

The organization will continue responding for as long as its services are needed, with support from people and businesses whose participation fuels Direct Relief’s humanitarian efforts.

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