Monday, February 08, 2010

Direct Relief Commits $1.2 Million in Cash for Disability Programs in Haiti

3 Feb 2010 20:15:00 GMT
Source: Direct Relief International (DRI) - USA
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Direct Relief International today announced that it is committing $1.2 million - approximately one-third of the cash support it has received for recovery efforts in Haiti - to support the establishment of prosthetics and orthotics services and the provision of needed assistive devices and rehabilitation to enable long-term response efforts for the people affected by the recent earthquake.

Direct Relief Emergency Preparedness and Response Director Brett Williams, who is in Haiti overseeing the organization's relief efforts, made this announcement today following consultation yesterday with other Haitian and international organizations who have formed a working group to coordinate assistance in the area of care for people who have sustained disabling conditions.

"We know this is a long-term need, and we want help start services that will be here five years from now for Haitians, and run by Haitians," said Williams.

"An additional $2 million likely will be needed, which we will work on, but we think it is important to carve out resources and begin focusing on this critical area now for the long haul," said Williams. "The funds we have received are for Haiti and Haitians, and they'll be invested in Haiti to build local capacity to sustain ongoing efforts."

Williams led Direct Relief's effort in Pakistan following the massive 2005 earthquake to help the Pakistan Institute of Prosthetic and Orthotic Sciences (PIPOS) expand five-fold its services - including the fitting and local fabrication of prosthetics and orthotics - to serve thousands of people who had been left with disabilities. The expanded service centers continue to provide essential services with locally trained staff five years later, with ongoing support from Direct Relief.

PIPOS Medical Director Dr. Bakht Sarwar is a world leader in prosthetics and orthotics services and was among the first to offer assistance to Direct Relief and its partners in Haiti after the quake.

Direct Relief has supported local health efforts in Haiti since 1964 by providing essential medicines, supplies, and equipment to dozens of partner facilities. Since the January 12 quake, Direct Relief has sped medical aid to Haitian partner facilities struggling to meet the tremendous surge of injured patients.

Meeting Immediate Needs: The organization yesterday also delivered six tons of essential medicines and medical supplies to St. Damien Hospital in Port-au-Prince, the nation's only free pediatric hospital, to help them treat injured patients.

Including yesterday's delivery to St. Damien, Direct Relief has delivered to its partners more than $5.7 million in essential medical supplies, which have been donated by dozens of healthcare company partners. An additional $18.5 million in medical material requested by partner facilities is en route and will be delivered in the next several days, which will be followed by additional infusions in the months and years ahead.

In spite of the widely reported bottlenecks of humanitarian aid, Direct Relief's assistance has reached the local healthcare facilities with which it is working, mainly because of pre-existing relations, specific targeting of aid to specific facilities that have requested them, and distribution channels to the facilities.

To ensure coordination with other aid inflows and compliance with accepted practices in emergency situations, Williams and his Direct Relief colleagues also are meeting daily with other groups in the U.N.-led health and logistics clusters to share information and plans.

With specific regard to donations of pharmaceutical products, which require specialized handling and tracking, Direct Relief is providing the World Health Organization/Pan-American Health Organization onsite event managers with detailed lists of all incoming medical material and the recipient facilities.

About Direct Relief International
Founded in 1948, Direct Relief is a Santa Barbara, California-based nonprofit organization focused on improving quality of life by bringing critically needed medicines and supplies to local healthcare providers worldwide. Direct Relief has provided more than $1 billion in privately funded humanitarian aid since 2000, including more than $150 million in assistance in the United States. It has earned a fundraising efficiency score of 99 percent or better from Forbes for the past eight years, and is ranked by the Chronicle of Philanthropy as California's largest international nonprofit organization based on private support. For more information, please visit

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