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Responding to Hurricane Otis, Maui Fire Recovery, and More

Direct Relief's Humanitarian Activity for the week of 10/20/2023 - 10/27/2023


Operational Update

Direct Relief ships out cold chain vaccines to Maui for the upcoming health fair, all part of the organization's ongoing wildfire response efforts. (Brea Burkholz/Direct Relief)

Over the past seven days, Direct Relief has delivered 491 shipments of requested medical aid to 45 U.S. states and territories and 14 countries worldwide.

The shipments contained 11.9 million defined daily doses of medication, including Covid-19 vaccines, portable refrigeration units, rare disease therapies, prenatal vitamins, field medic packs, chronic disease medications, PPE, and more.

Hurricane Otis Response IN Mexico

Emergency medical supplies reach health officials in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, on Oct. 20, 2023, ahead of Hurricane Otis’ landfall. Direct Relief will be mobilizing additional support this week to the area, including Acapulco, devastated by high winds and storm surge from the Category 5 hurricane. (Eduardo Mendoza/Direct Relief)

In response to this week’s devastating hurricane that made landfall in Mexico, Direct Relief committed an initial $200,000 to support emergency response efforts in the region.

Hurricane Otis, a Category 5 storm, slammed Mexico’s Pacific Coast with winds of up to 165 miles per hour, and at least 27 people were killed as a result of the storm. Medical infrastructure is damaged in the Acapulco area, and power outages are widespread.

Direct Relief is in communication with its local partner network, including the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, or IMSS, one of the largest healthcare providers in the country, and has shared a list of available medications. The organization will be responding to needs as they become known and had also delivered shipments of emergency medicines to the area the week before the storm.

Read more.

Vaccines Depart for Maui Health Fair

Direct Relief staff prepare vaccinations stored in one of the organization’s cold storage rooms for shipment to Hawai’i as part of its Lahaina Fire response efforts. The vaccines will be used at health fairs to reach the community. (Brea Burkholz/Direct Relief)

This weekend, over a dozen providers, nonprofits, associations and the Hawai’i Department of Health will host a community health fair, which will prioritize Lahaina residents and evacuees who lost their homes to the wildfires and now reside within the resorts in the area.

Direct Relief is supporting the health fair with donated vaccines, including protection against Covid-19, influenza, RSV, and pneumococcal infections such as pneumonia. Supplies and equipment are also being provided, including needles and syringes, gloves, alcohol swabs, diluent, portable refrigerators, ultra-low temperatures freezers and temperature monitoring devices for vaccine storage.

Read more.

Grassroots Organizations in India Address Climate, Health

Women in the village of Anand, India, meet with SEWA leaders and Direct Relief staff. (Andrew Schroeder/Direct Relief)

Direct Relief staff recently traveled to Ahmedabad, Gujarat state in India to meet with the Self-Employed Women’s Association, known as SEWA, and the All-India Disaster Mitigation Institute, or AIDMI.

SEWA consists of roughly 2.5 million female members that range in occupation from domestic workers to street vendors, construction workers, salt-pan workers, small farmers, and operates across 18 states in India, as well as in several other countries in South Asia including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka.

Their operational focus builds from social movement-based women’s empowerment up through wage and workplace safety negotiations to generalized micro-financial services, savings programs, insurance programs, and increasingly through Direct Relief’s assistance, health care programs. AIDMI is a close ally and collaborator with SEWA, and a leading research institute in India on disaster mitigation and risk reduction, with a special focus on climate and health.

Direct Relief is supporting each organization with grants aimed at strengthening approaches around climate change adaptation, disaster mitigation and response, and health data, stemming from funds raised during the Delta wave Covid outbreak in India. Prior to these current grants, Direct Relief also supported SEWA extensively during the pandemic with supplies of PPE and cash resources for Covid-response programs.

SEWA leaders meet, along with district coordinators from states across India, including Gujarat, Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, and many others. (Andrew Schroeder/Direct Relief)



This week, Direct Relief shipped 10.5 million defined daily doses of medication outside the U.S.

Countries that received medical aid over the past week included:

  • Syria
  • Lebanon
  • Peru
  • Iraq
  • Dominican Republic
  • Malawi
  • Burundi
  • Armenia
  • Haiti
  • Papua New Guinea


Direct Relief delivered 470 shipments containing more than 10 tons of medications over the past week to organizations, including the following:

  • Kaiser Permanente, Hawai’i
  • Tulakes Clinic, Oklahoma
  • Karis Community Health, Tennessee
  • Mission City Community Health, California
  • Community Health and Emergency Services, Illinois
  • Eunice Community Health Center, Louisiana
  • Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, Hawai’i
  • Rapides Primary Health Care, Louisiana
  • The Pic Place, Colorado


Since January 1, 2023, Direct Relief has delivered 17,700 shipments to 2,351 healthcare providers in 55 U.S. states and territories and 86 countries.

These shipments contained 454 million defined daily doses of medication valued at $1.7 billion (wholesale), totaling 5.5 million lbs.

in the news

Direct Relief and FedEx Team Up to Respond to Dengue Outbreak in Mexico – FedEx Cares

Boy Scouts of America visit Carnival Cruise Line in Kahului – Maui Now

Teva to Provide Second Round of Funding to Clinics in California, Florida and New Jersey as Part of $2 Million Commitment Through Community Routes: Access to Mental Health Care Program – AP News

Alycia Clark: Leading the Way as Head Pharmacist at Direct Relief – Montecito Journal

Hurricane Otis leaves at least 27 dead in Mexico – Big News Network

Ruth Arnold Smarinsky, PharmD: A strong force for good – Angels in Medicine

Hurricane Otis, a Rare Category 5 Storm, Slams Mexico’s Western Coast – Relief Web

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