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Unless stated otherwise, images shot by Direct Relief may be republished for non-commercial purposes with proper attribution, given the republisher complies with the requirements identified below.

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Direct Relief often contracts with freelance photographers who usually, but not always, allow their work to be published by Direct Relief’s media partners. Contact Direct Relief for permission to use images in which Direct Relief is not credited in the caption by clicking here.

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For any additional questions about republishing Direct Relief content, please email the team here.

Indian Ocean Earthquake & Tsunami, 2004

Disaster Relief

Earthquake & Tsunami Relief

On Dec. 26, 2004, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami caused incredible destruction and loss of life across five time zones and 14 countries bordering the Indian Ocean.

Over 225,000 people were killed, thousands were injured, and 1.7 million were left homeless.

As frequently occurs in emergency scenarios, the poorest and most vulnerable groups suffered the most significant losses from lack of access to quality medical services, along with loss of land, shelter, and employment opportunities.

The Response

2004 South Asian Earthquake and Tsunami destruction 2004 South Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Destruction

Thanks to a generous outpouring of support from donors, Direct Relief was able to work with a strong network of nearly 90 local partners in the hardest-hit countries, including India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, to provide almost $60 million in humanitarian medical aid, including more than $13.5 million in targeted cash grants and $45.4 million in medicines, nutritional supplies, and equipment to help people affected the tsunami to recover.

Direct Relief developed a comprehensive strategy that allocated resources per country as well as per specific relief, recovery, and rehabilitation activity.

Initiatives focused on seven specific response areas: disease prevention; health facility construction and rehabilitation; medical and technical equipment assistance; health and medical services; psycho-social services; shelter; and water and sanitation. These interconnected response areas allowed the organization to support immediate and long-term healthcare services.

For example, Direct Relief’s support helped rebuild fishing villages in Thailand and build latrines in a refugee camp in Sri Lanka. In the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 34 health clinics were constructed and outfitted with supplies and equipment, replacing the facilities destroyed in the tsunami. And in Chennai, India, Direct Relief funded training for more than 700 nursing assistants through a program sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline. The program pays tuition and living expenses during a 2-year course that prepares women for careers in the medical field. These women often come from humble backgrounds and can make a living wage while contributing to healthcare service in India upon graduation.

Ongoing Support: Building for the Future

Direct Relief’s tsunami response also helped improve the region’s resilience to subsequent emergencies. For example, when floods struck India, a telemedicine van that Direct Relief provided to the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences brought sophisticated medical care to displaced populations. The state-of-the-art vehicle enabled doctors to reach rural and remote populations to offer screenings and consultations via satellite connection. Similar vans were deployed in other parts of India based on the success of the first telemedicine van project.

Direct Relief has continued to support medical organizations such as Yayasan Bumi Sehat, which established a clinic in Aceh, Indonesia, after the tsunami. A nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with a staff of primarily nurses and midwives, Yayasan Bumi Sehat, set up its clinic and mobile services in regions hit hardest by the tsunami. The organization has spent decades operating a safe motherhood and infant survival clinic in Bali. After the tsunami struck, the group worked to bring trained medical professionals to Aceh, recognizing that a lack of primary and prenatal care was a serious concern for a population of more than 10,000. Yayasan Bumi Sehat’s vision, dedication, provision of care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay, and respect for the community in which it works have made it a valued Direct Relief partner.

Funding from Direct Relief allowed Yayasan Bumi Sehat to continue providing much-needed medical assistance to the people of Samatiga, Meulaboh, and Aceh. Conditions in Aceh were incredibly harsh for the tsunami survivors the organization served. As Ibu Robin Lim, the organization’s head midwife, noted, “The tsunami of poverty is still breaking upon the people of Aceh.”

Working with in-country organizations with the greatest stake in the success of response and recovery efforts, Direct Relief supported projects that improved the overall quality and availability of urgent and ongoing healthcare services. These projects included building community healthcare centers in isolated or underserved areas that previously had little to no access to medical services; reconstructing physically more robust, more disaster-resistant, and more extensive medical clinics (often adding accommodations for a trained healthcare provider); purchasing ambulances, including a specialized vehicle for the care of neonates; purchasing medical equipment including emergency, intensive care, and diagnostic items; designing and building customized mobile telemedicine units that use the expertise of physicians in tertiary care facilities to diagnose and treat people in more remote areas; cleaning and rebuilding wells, toilets, and septic tanks; and training local healthcare providers. These preparations would support and inform future relief efforts in the region.

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