By Charles Redding, CEO and President
In 2021, the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) recorded 432 catastrophic events related to natural hazards worldwide. Overall, these caused 10,492 deaths, affected 101.8 million people and caused an estimated $252.1 billion in economic losses. Asia was the hardest hit continent, suffering 40% of all disasters and accounting for 49% of the total number of deaths and 66% of the total number of people affected. Meanwhile, as COVID surged again in India and Nepal, MedShare provided essential respiratory equipment, thousands of pieces of PPE, and other critical hospital supplies and equipment.
When natural or man-made disasters strike vulnerable areas around the world, MedShare is ready to respond quickly and effectively. We are in a unique position to equip first responders immediately after a disaster and partner with local institutions and government agencies to rebuild capacity and support long-term recovery.
As we continue to strengthen our preparedness through key partnership agreements with the Global Crisis Coordination Center, Henry Schein and Amazon, we are working collaboratively to pre-position medical supplies for rapid response.
Of course, many areas affected by natural disasters already have extreme difficulty reaching people in rural areas. Generally, the limited infrastructure that was once in place no longer functions properly and creates bottlenecks for the delivery of humanitarian aid. MedShare is adept at overcoming these obstacles.
In the moments after a disaster, food, shelter, medical care and clothing all top the list of priorities. MedShare Disaster Relief Program put the accent on:
- Communicate directly with our partner hospitals and clinics in the country to determine their needs
- Respond to the immediate needs of our product donor partners in accordance with established agreements
- Coordinate and expedite shipments of essential supplies with our logistics partners
- Supplying medical mission team volunteers when traveling around the area to provide aid
- Ongoing support after the initial response to help rebuild health systems in disaster-stricken areas
Although most of our disaster response efforts since 2020 have focused on COVID-19, where we have delivered 72 million PPE globally to date to 103 partner organizations in 29 countries, the most active response of MedShare took place in 2017, when we experienced some of the most devastating natural disasters in recorded history. Hurricane Maria was the deadliest Atlantic hurricane in more than a decade, killing thousands and millions without clean water or power for months. Hurricane Harvey is tied with Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record, having displaced 30,000 people across Texas, Louisiana, Latin America and the Caribbean. Hurricane Irma caused unprecedented damage to the Caribbean islands and many are flying today in the face of the aftermath of these storms.
On August 14, 2021, a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck western Haiti, killing over 1,400 people, injuring 6,900 and causing extensive damage. MedShare, along with other humanitarian aid organizations, responded to this disaster to once again provide essential medical aid to victims and health workers.
Unfortunately, it’s not a question of if, but when the next disaster will strike. Currently, we are actively responding to the crisis in Ukraine, where more than 4 million people have fled the country in the fastest growing and largest displacement crisis of this century.
Millions of people are still at risk and in dire need of help as attacks on Ukrainian cities continue. It has been over 6 months now since MedShare launched our disaster relief response to provide essential and lifesaving medical supplies and equipment to those affected by this crisis, and to date we have provided over 2 million humanitarian aid dollars to countless people and communities in need of quality medical care, with plans to do more with your support.
In the past 12 years alone, MedShare has responded to more than 27 disasters in 37 countries, serving more than 8 million people with more than $50 million in assistance, thanks to the generous support of our partners and donors.
Please visit www.medshare.org for more information about our disaster relief programs and other humanitarian assistance programs in resource-constrained areas in the United States and abroad.