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Seventy-Five Tons of Requested Medical Aid Depart for Syria

Charter flight packed with medical aid for post-earthquake recovery efforts to arrive in Turkey Monday night, and 176 pallets will then be trucked across Syrian border to health facilities.


Turkey-Syria Earthquake 2023

A 747 charter flight is filled with medical aid on March 26, 2023, in Los Angeles, before departing. The aid is bound for health facilities in northwestern Syria, and includes requested cholera treatments, antibiotics, PPE, wound care supplies, and more. (Noah Smith/Direct Relief)

The largest single infusion of aid to Syria in Direct Relief’s history departed Sunday via a 747 charter flight currently en route to the region to bolster medical facilities in earthquake-impacted areas.

On March 26, more than 75 tons of medical aid left Los Angeles and is expected to arrive in Adana, Turkey, on Monday night. Upon arrival and customs clearance, the pallets will be trucked to the Syrian border and transported by UN vehicles for distribution to Aleppo and Idleb governorates.

The shipment includes specifically requested medications for diabetes and hypertension, antibiotics, a cholera treatment kit, which can treat more than 100 patients, adult and children’s vitamins, pain relievers, hygiene items for displaced people, wound care supplies, orthopedic braces, PPE, and more.

The supplies will be distributed among the Syrian American Medical Society, Independent Doctors Association, and Syria Relief and Development, all of which provide health care services in northwestern Syria and have been responding since the devastating 7.8- and 7.5-magnitude earthquakes on Feb. 6.

A second cargo plane charter has been scheduled for the first week in April, with supplies heading to support recovery efforts in Turkey through the Ministry of Health.

Responding to Medical Needs During Recovery

With the death toll reaching 50,000 last week and more than 2.2 million people currently displaced, the recovery effort continues as both countries work to fill gaps in the medical supply chain and healthcare systems – impacts being felt even more significantly in northwestern Syria, where critical infrastructure and services were already lacking due to ongoing conflict.

In the immediate hours following the earthquakes, Direct Relief began assessing needs on the ground. Through communication and coordination with the Ministry of Health of Turkey, as well as several nonprofit medical organizations in both Syria and Turkey, Direct Relief was able to provide critically needed funding to assist with search and rescue efforts within the first 24 hours while simultaneously working to assess medical aid needs.

Current needs in this stage of the recovery process are antibiotics, wound care supplies, prosthetics, medication for diabetes, hypertension, cancer, maternal/pediatric health, cholera treatment, mental health trauma care, and support for doctors and other healthcare staff working and volunteering to provide medical care in the affected regions.

Expansive Support from Across the World

Sunday’s flight and the charter scheduled next week reflect the concern and personal support from people in over 90 countries and the same from multiple companies that have generously issued their support.

The Turkey-Syria earthquake response reflects the broadest geographic reach of philanthropic support for any response in Direct Relief’s 75-year history, with supporters from more than 90 countries worldwide. Direct Relief has received $14 million for the Turkey and Syria earthquake response, of which $5.2 million has been committed/spent so far.

Direct Relief has provided more than $57 million of donated medicines and medical supplies since February 6.
In addition to continuous deployments of medical aid, Direct Relief has infused cash grant support to local organizations scaling up to meet the needs of the moment. More than $2.6 million in financial aid has been committed.

In Turkey

  • The Society of Critical Care Medicine received $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 received $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, received $100,000 for urban search and rescue efforts. The group also received 100 Direct Relief field medic backpacks for triage care.
  • Turkish Society of Nephrology – Renal Disaster Task Force received $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.
  • The Turkish Society of Intensive Care and the Turkish Medical Association have each been awarded $50,000 for the procurement of 10 containerized housing units used for front-line medical doctors and staff.

In Syria

  • The Syrian American Medical Society received $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 $150,000 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.

Since 2017, Direct Relief has sent 101 shipments, valued at about $199 million in total, to Syria.

Giving is Good Medicine

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