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Operational Update: Responding to Texas Wildfires, Celebrating International Women’s Day, and More

Shipments depart for a health center in Texas impacted by fires, and a globally renowned midwife speaks at Direct Relief.



An initial shipment of requested personal care items, medications, and supplies departed Direct Relief's warehouse in Santa Barbara, on March 6, 2023 bound for Amarillo, Texas. Historic wildfires have impacted the area and Regence Health Network, a Federally Qualified Health Center, will be using the donations to treat patients with respiratory issues related to smoke inhalation and allergies. (Maeve Ozimec/Direct Relief)

Over the past seven days, Direct Relief has delivered 421 shipments of requested medical aid to 43 U.S. states and territories and ten countries worldwide.

The shipments contained 2.9 million defined daily doses of medication and supplies, including personal hygiene essentials, respiratory medications, vitamins and more.

Renowned Midwife Speaks for International Women’s Day

Midwife Neha Mankani visits Direct Relief headquarters on International Women’s Day. (Kim Ofilas/Direct Relief)

International Women’s Day drew a crowd of over 100 people to hear firsthand about the essential work of midwives from a midwife who responded to the 2022 floods in Pakistan to serve women who had little to no access to care.

Neha Mankani spoke at Direct Relief headquarters on Friday, shortly after a short documentary called “Neha,” which chronicles her efforts to bring midwifery care to communities impacted by the catastrophic floods in Pakistan’s Sindh Province, was shown to those gathered. A volunteer event was also held to pack personal care items for women worldwide.

In November 2023, Mankani was named among the “2023 BBC 100 Women,” highlighting inspiring and influential women from across the globe. Mankani was a Fulbright Scholar and earned a master’s in public health from Columbia University, a midwife and founder of Mama Baby Fund and works with the International Confederation of Midwives to shape policy and advocate for midwives globally.

Direct Relief often supports the work of midwives during emergencies because they are usually first responders to those most vulnerable, including pregnant women and infants. Direct Relief CEO Thomas Tighe introduced Mankani and said the organization works to connect resources to midwives in the wake of disasters for just that reason. “When we see an earthquake, or a typhoon… we’re thinking of midwives because they always show up,” Tighe said.

The documentary shows Mankani working to access clinics where demand for health services far outpaced capacity after the 2022 floods and showed the devastating impacts of climate on health. Afterward, Mankani was interviewed by Paulina Ospina, Direct Relief’s Maternal and Child Health Associate Director, and the two spoke about the significant intersections of climate change and the impacts on pregnant people and young children. For example, the impacts of heat can have direct implications for the prevalence of hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and even pre-term birth, Mankani said.

Direct Relief’s Paulina Ospina interviews Neha Mankani at Direct Relief headquarters on March 8, 2024. (Kim Ofilas/Direct Relief)

Environmental factors have direct impacts on women and children, including lack of access to quality food due to crop devastation from flooding and lost livelihoods for agricultural workers. Malaria and other vector-borne diseases are also related, as well as access to clean water and timely health care. Gender inequity and gender-based violence also add layers to women accessing care and resources.

“All of these disasters are set against an already weak health system,” she said. “It makes a poor situation worse.”

The documentary showed a scene of Mankani holding a listening session with midwives in Pakistan, asking them what they need to feel empowered in their communities to do their work safely and effectively. Because many policies around health care and midwifery are made at the Ministry of Health and country level, direct feedback from midwives is often left out of the conversation. But that’s changing, Mankani said, a fact that she finds extremely hopeful.

“There’s a sense of ‘nothing about us, without us’,” she said. “There’s a recognition that a lot of the change needs to come from the ground.”

Volunteers pack personal care kits for women experiencing emergencies. (Kim Ofilas/Direct Relief)

Texas Wildfires

Historic wildfires have impacted Texas, with the largest being the Smokehouse Creek Fire, which burned over one million acres with 74% containment as of Friday, March 8, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

In response, a shipment of requested personal care items, medications, and supplies departed Direct Relief’s warehouse in Santa Barbara, California, and this week, it was bound for Amarillo, Texas.

Regence Health Network, a federally qualified health center, will use donations to treat patients with respiratory issues related to smoke inhalation and allergies.

NACHC President Visits Direct Relief

Last week, National Association of Community Health Centers President and CEO Dr. Kyu Rhee visited Direct Relief headquarters in Santa Barbara, California. Dr. Rhee met with Direct Relief leadership and staff to discuss the organizations’ partnership and combined impacts on patients in the U.S.

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National Association of Community Health Centers President and CEO Dr. Kyu Rhee visited the Direct Relief campus in Santa Barbara, California, on March 1, 2024. Direct Relief leadership included Dr. Byron Scott, COO; Heather Bennett, Chief of Staff; Tim Boris, Senior Director of Corporate Engagement; Ruth Smarinsky, Senior Advisor, Pharmacy and Clinical Affairs; Katie Lewis, Associate Director, Global Programs and Annie Vu, Associate Director, U.S. Emergency Response. (Direct Relief photo)

Operational Snapshot


Over the last week, Direct Relief shipped more than 1.7 million defined daily doses of medication outside the U.S.

Countries that received medical aid over the past week included:

  • Ukraine
  • Iraq
  • Honduras
  • Syria
  • Morocco
  • India
  • Dominican Republic
  • Paraguay
  • Lebanon
  • Uganda


Direct Relief delivered 404 shipments containing nearly 13 tons of medications during the past seven days to organizations, including the following:

  • Parkview Outreach Community, Florida
  • Findley Foundation Inc, Wisconsin
  • Care Beyond the Boulevard, Kansas
  • Franklin County Community Care, Texas
  • El Proyecto Del Barrio, California
  • Jefferson Comprehensive Health Center, Inc., Mississippi
  • Texas Native Health, Texas
  • Greater Texoma Health Clinic, Texas
  • Lake County Free Clinic, Ohio
  • Charis Health Center, Tennessee


Since January 1, 2024, Direct Relief has delivered 4,381 shipments to 1,248 partner organizations in 53 U.S. states and territories and 52 countries.

These shipments contained 67.8 million defined daily doses of medication totaling 1.3 million lbs.

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