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Thought Leader Uncategorized Global Health

Responding to disasters on many fronts

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Before there was Irma, there was Harvey.  Before Harvey, there was an unnamed disaster in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  

Though you might not have seen it on cable news, Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, experienced unrelenting rains only a few days before Harvey made landfall in Texas.  Nearly 1,000 people perished and thousands more were homeless.

In response, MAP International and its partners airlifted an InterAgency Emergency Health Kit (IEHK) to Freetown.  The IEHK is the global standard for responding to large scale disasters such as the devastation in Freetown.  One serves the medical needs of 10,000 people for 90 days. To assist with the long-term recovery in Sierra Leone, MAP International has another $12.1 million in critical medical aid planned for this east African country.

One disaster of this scale can take up enormous resources. Responding to three disasters requires extraordinary support and dedication.  Many of Georgia’s best non-profits are actively engaged in multiple fronts, helping people affected by natural disasters around the globe.

MAP International has received tremendous support from donors around the world.  One donor from the Ukraine wrote to MAP International, “America helped Ukraine, so I hereby to help them.”  

No matter where you are in the world, people know what it means to receive and offer hope. This is the beautiful reciprocation of the human spirit. The same spirit is active here in the United States with Harvey and Irma.  People from Texas are supporting Floridians and Georgians, just as they supported Texas only a few days ago.  

Before its staff evacuated from the threat of Hurricane Irma, MAP assembled a relief truckload valued at more than $1 million for people in Texas.  This included 27 pallets of both health and other relief supplies including toothpaste, shampoo, 500 disaster health kits, and new clothing, shoes and blankets.  In the immediate term, MAP will send an additional 10,000 DHKs to people affected by either Irma or Harvey depending on needs identified in Florida and Georgia.

MAP is tightly focused on preventing the spread of disease and illness. MAP is supplying its Disaster Health Kits that include antiseptic wipes, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other essential items. Each kit is designed to help meet the needs of one person residing in a shelter for one week.

These items are critical. Flooding and disasters associated with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hurt children, the elderly and disabled the most. Many people affected already have chronic health conditions. And events like these make them even more susceptible to illness.

In Houston, people are still living in shelters, bunking with friends and family or taking up temporary housing wherever it may be found. The same is going on throughout Florida and Georgia as a result of Irma. Living in such close quarters makes people vulnerable to health issues.  This is why the time to act is now.

If you have not given to support people in Texas, Florida or Georgia, please donate. Whether you give to MAP International or any of the other reputable agencies listed on Charity Navigator, your support is greatly needed now.  


Photo: Volunteers at the San Jose Clinic in Houston, where 1,000 MAP Disaster Health Kits were distributed to help people affected by flooding after Hurricane Harvey.

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