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Global Health Thought Leadership

Turkey/Syria Earthquake Response Continues

By Charles Redding

On February 6, at 4:17am, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria. This is the region’s most powerful earthquake recorded since 1939, with at least 78 aftershocks and a second 7.5 magnitude earthquake reported. In Syria, the earthquake affected a region where 4.1 million people were already dependent on humanitarian assistance, the majority of whom are women and children. These same Syrian communities have been struggling with an on-going cholera outbreak and harsh winter conditions. 

In addition to the 48,000 lives that have been lost, millions of people have been injured and/or displaced, thousands of buildings damaged, and entire communities leveled. Needless to say, there is both an immediate and long-term need for medical aid to support damaged and overwhelmed hospitals now, and to help them reconstitute healthcare services in the future. 

Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria and the subsequent refugee crisis, there are a number of existing international NGOs with permanent operations in the region. Charity Navigator currently lists MedShare among 43 high-performing organizations providing relief and recovery in the wake of the earthquakes, and there are hundreds of small organizations based in Turkey, Syria and elsewhere who are responding with medical aid, food, sanitation and water, psycho-social and other material support.  

MedShare has a longstanding history of providing humanitarian aid to these communities in times of crises. Since 2009 MedShare has delivered over $4.7 million in humanitarian aid to provide care for over 175,000 patients and healthcare workers in the Turkey/Syria region. 

Key partner organizations have included: 

  •  Orient for Human Relief
  •  Syrian American Medical Society
  •  Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (UOSSM)
  •  LEAP Global Missions

After the Government of Turkey issued the call for international assistance last month, MedShare once again answered the call. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, MedShare: 

  •  Activated our disaster response protocol to guide our relief efforts and maximize our impact with a focus on marginalized communities
  • Opened our primary care supply center to groups traveling to the region to collect critical medical supplies to be hand-carried to the reach to provide treatment of those in need
  • Immediately began to collaborate with many of our existing partners that are providing emergency aid in Turkey and Syria
  • Initiated the process of carefully selecting quality medical supplies to match the established needs list generated by our partner organizations such as the Turkish Embassy, the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (UOSSM), Islamic Relief USA, Islamic Relief Canada, Syrian American Medical Society

MedShare is also partnering with longstanding healthcare partner, Northwell Health, to transport 22 pallets of critical medical supplies to the region to treat the millions of people that have been impacted during this disaster.

“We are all part of one global family,” Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health said in a statement.  “And when there’s one part of the family in severe distress, we as a healthcare organization have to be concerned about people in other parts of the world.”

If you would like to learn more about our relief efforts, please visit www.medshare.org or donate here.

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