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Strengthening the Humanitarian Supply Chain, Post-Earthquake

Aftershocks continue to rattle Turkey and Syria. More than 109 tons of medicine and supplies have pulsed into the region to support the health system.


Turkey-Syria Earthquake 2023

Staff from the Syrian American Medical Society organize medical aid from Direct Relief that arrived last week to support medical facilities operating in northwestern Syria. (SAMS photo)

It’s been three weeks since a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked southern Turkey and northwestern Syria, with the scale of the disaster coming into sharper focus since.

More than 44,000 people have lost their lives due to the earthquakes, and more than 2.2 million people have been displaced or evacuated, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

More than 9,000 aftershocks have occurred and continue, including a 5.2-magnitude quake that rattled southern Turkey on Monday.

More than 9 million people were directly affected by the earthquakes, and more than 520,000 housing units collapsed or were destroyed.

Since the earthquake reverberated throughout the region on Feb. 6, Direct Relief has shipped or is shipping more than 109 tons of medical aid for Turkey and Syria, including antibiotics, wound care dressings, protective gear, and other requested medical resources.

Staff from Direct Relief and UMKE, the Turkish National Medical Rescue Team, assess needs in earthquake-impacted Kahramanmaraş, Turkey, on Feb. 20 2023. (Brea Burkholz/Direct Relief)

Groups supported with medical aid include Turkey’s Ministry of Health, Ahbap, AKUT, Syrian American Medical Society, Independent Doctor’s Association, and Syrian Relief and Development.

A recent shipment for the Syrian American Medical Society was announced over the weekend and is supporting the medical supply chain for hospitals operating in the area.

The organization has been responding to the series of earthquakes that continue to rock the region. SAMS posted that five of the organization’s hospitals in Syria received at least 30 injured from the early evening 6.4-magnitude earthquake on Feb. 20.

“SAMS’ 2,400 staff in the region–nearly half of whom were displaced by the disaster–continue to provide urgent medical and other assistance to the thousands of casualties, many requiring long-term therapeutic as well as mental health support,” the organization stated.

“Despite four of SAMS’ hospitals being significantly damaged in the February 6 earthquake, rendering one inoperable, SAMS continues to provide comprehensive medical care.”

Direct Relief committed an additional $1 million to SAMS to offset costs needed to purchase medicines and supplies in country. The amount adds to a prior $600,000 granted to the organization for emergency operations funds, expand capacity for trauma response and cover costs for diesel fuel for ambulances and generators.

Financial support

In addition to continuous deployments of medical aid, Direct Relief is infusing cash support to local organizations scaling up to meet the needs of the moment. More than $2.5 million in financial aid has been committed.

In Turkey

  • The Society of Critical Care Medicine will receive $500,000 to support specialized procurement of trauma care needs and supplies. The organization has active members working in hospitals in Turkey and Syria and is also mobilizing ICU specialists from multiple countries to provide emergency medicine and critical care services in support of the Turkish health system.
  • The Turkish Midwifery Association will receive $100,000 to obtain UN delivery kits. The association has 3,910 members who provide pre- and post-natal home care as well as childbirth services at Turkish hospitals throughout the country. Pregnant women and newborns are particularly vulnerable to health risks in disaster settings, and the funding will pay for supplies to facilitate safe births, as well as personal care supplies for pregnant women and those recovering from birth.
  • AKUT, the leading search and rescue team in Turkey with over 400 staff and volunteers, has received $100,000 for urban search and rescue efforts. The group will also receive 100 Direct Relief field medic backpacks for triage care.
  • Turkish Society of Nephrology – Renal Disaster Task Force will receive $20,000 for converted shipping containers to shelters for specialized teams cycling into Adiyaman, Hatay, and Kahramanmaras to provide medical care for crush wounds and resulting kidney issues that occur after acute traumas.

In Syria

  • The Syrian American Medical Society will receive $1 million for emergency procurement of in-country medications and surgery supplies, bringing total cash support to the organization to $1.6 million from Direct Relief.
  • Syria Relief and Development has received $100,000 for emergency operating expenses. This grant follows years of support from Direct Relief to Syria Relief and Development, including financial assistance and donations of medical resources.
  • Independent Doctors Association has received $100,000 for emergency operating expenses. This grant builds on years of in-kind support from Direct Relief – more than 10 million doses of medicine since 2021.

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