In response to the natural disaster in the Philippines, Direct Relief International is preparing to conduct the largest-ever emergency airlift in the 65-year history of the Goleta-based nonprofit.
Direct Relief said that on Saturday, Nov. 23, it will deliver 50 tons of essential medications and emergency supplies to people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
The air shipment includes enough medicines to treat 250,000 people and will be delivered on a wide-bodied cargo aircraft flight arranged and donated by FedEx, Direct Relief said. All of the aid items were requested by health officials and nongovernmental groups in the Philippines, it said.
“Filipinos have suffered a severe calamity and need help as they organize and manage the immediate relief and efforts and plan the next steps,” Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe said in a statement. “Direct Relief’s unique licensing among nonprofits allows us manage the donation of prescription medications, and our immediate focus is responding to urgent requests for essential medications and medical supplies needed to provide health services across the affected local communities.”
Direct Relief said it has already delivered 10 tons of materials valued at $4 million since the devastating typhoon struck two weeks ago. The previous supplies were delivered through 10 emergency airfreight shipments and hand-carried items provided to medical teams traveling to the region. The donations contain antibiotics, I.V. fluids, oral rehydration formula, wound care supplies, pain relievers, surgical instruments, nutritional supplements, hygiene kits and chronic-disease medicines.
The nonprofit said it also provided $150,000 in emergency cash grants to three support relief operations : the Asia America Initiative, the Zuellig Foundation and the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation. Direct Relief is also working with the Philippine Red Cross, the IPI Foundation and the U.S-Philippines Society to coordinate relief efforts with with Filipino officials.
Typhoon Haiyan, which has killed at least 5,200 people and displaced thousands more, also caused significant damage or complete destruction of health facilities in its path, Direct Relief said, meaning stocks of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment were wiped out and are now urgently needed.
Direct Relief said its teams on the ground in the Philippines are reporting that remaining health concerns include injuries, waterborne illness, communicable diseases spread by displacement and overcrowding such as respiratory infections, inadequate hygiene and malnutrition.