Combating Ebola: Airlift of 100 Tons of Medical Aid
In 2014, Direct Relief committed to support the governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone in their efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak, the first of its kind in West Africa, with partners including Last Mile Health. Direct Relief will send more than 100 tons of urgently needed personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, and medicines to its partners on the ground in Liberia and Sierra Leone, who will then team up with the respective Ministries of Health to deploy an effective channel to distribute supplies to clinics, health facilities, and hospitals in regions heavily affected by the outbreak. In addition, beyond the chartered airlift, Direct Relief will continue to mobilize medical resources into West Africa to combat the spread of Ebola over the next year. As a result, 100 on-the-ground healthcare organizations and facilities will have increased capacity to treat Ebola.
In response to the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, Direct Relief commits to sending more than 100 tons of urgently needed personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, and medicines to its partners on the ground in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Partners on the ground will team up with the respective Ministries of Health to deploy an effective distribution channel to get supplies to clinics, health facilities, and hospitals in regions heavily affected by the outbreak. In addition, more supplies will be secured in other locations as precautionary and emergency preparedness measures.
The overall global response in mobilizing emergency medical aid for the Ebola outbreak has been slow, and more support is needed. Several flights have been cancelled into the region, and certain ocean ports are slowing down which poses logistical challenges to support an influx of severely needed aid.
September 20, 2014: The chartered 747 cargo jet for Ebola response efforts will depart John F. Kennedy airport in New York.
September 21, 2014: The plane will unload medical resources in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Local partners and top officials from the respective Ministries of Health will meet the plane upon arrival and will ensure all products be distributed as planned.
Beyond the chartered airlift, Direct Relief will continue to mobilize medical resources into West Africa to combat the spread of Ebola.
Liberia and Sierra Leone are currently facing the worst Ebola outbreak in history and the first outbreak of its kind in West Africa. Ebola is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection and is spread through direct contact with blood and bodily fluids of a person who is sick. As of September 6, 2014, the World Health Organization reported more than 4,293 confirmed cases and 2,296 deaths throughout West Africa. It is suspected that these numbers are vastly underestimated and that the virus is affecting more people on a massive scale. The World Health Organization also stated that the outbreak could infect more than 20,000 people. As with any large-scale health crisis, the Ebola outbreak has caused a serious strain on the healthcare systems of these countries, which have had to divert already-scarce human and medical resources to respond to the outbreak. Indications show that if assistance is not provided, numbers could reach upwards of 50,000 by October.
Direct Relief has completed this CGI commitment, and remains active in mobilizing and delivering aid to West Africa regions affected by the Ebola outbreak, as well as focusing on rebuilding and strengthening its health systems.
Direct Relief chartered two 747 planes to ensure that critically needed medicines and supplies arrived to partners in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Transportation into West Africa was severely limited as a result of the Ebola outbreak, and Direct Relief opted to charter private planes to make sure that resources arrived in the region in a timely and secure manner.
Since the Ebola outbreak began in March 2014, Direct Relief has delivered more than $25 million worth of medicine, medical supplies, and equipment to healthcare facilities throughout Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as to doctors traveling from the U.S. to West Africa on medical mission trips.
Direct Relief also provided two 10-bed Ebola treatment units to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) and the Medical Research Centre in Sierra Leone. These units were used to treat local Sierra Leonean health workers infected with Ebola. These tents were purchased and shipped after Direct Relief received urgent requests from both the MOHS and the Junior Doctors’ Association of Sierra Leone.
In addition, Direct Relief provided 67 midwife kits to the Medical Research Centre (MRC) in Sierra Leone. These kits, to be distributed to graduates of the Makeni School of Midwifery, contain enough supplies and consumables for each trained midwife to deliver 25 healthy babies.
Furthermore, more than 40 different items were added to facility kits and sent to 100 hospitals and centers throughout Liberia and Sierra Leone. Direct Relief sourced these kits to help reopen and restock the healthcare system in both countries.
Other delivered supplies included solar suitcases to partners in Sierra Leone. These suitcases provided lighting, power for head lamps, cells phones, and medical appliances.
In all, Direct Relief oversaw 40 emergency shipments into West Africa and over 10 hand carry deliveries. These deliveries contained personal protective gear (e.g., gloves, gowns, suits, masks), medicine, general health inventory items, and other requested resources.