Direct Relief Mobilizing Emergency Aid for Ukraine

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Feb. 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Direct Relief is assembling shipments of medicine and medical supplies urgently requested by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health, to aid Ukrainian residents whose health and safety is threatened by the Russian military invasion.

Direct Relief is working to determine specific needs, secure requested medicines and supplies, and deliver the aid to people needing assistance, whether in Ukraine or across regional borders. The humanitarian medical aid organization is coordinating with public health agencies in and around Ukraine, local and regional health care providers, global logistics partners, and manufacturers of medicine and medical supplies.

“Direct Relief was created out of the ashes of World War II by Europeans who fled,” said Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief CEO and President. “It’s stunning and sad that humanitarian assistance is needed again in the same neighborhood, but it is consistent with our organization’s roots, initial focus, and longstanding mission. Direct Relief will continue to respond.”

Direct Relief, over the weekend, received a comprehensive list from the Ministry of Health of needed medications. Drawing on supplies in its Santa Barbara warehouse, Direct Relief has assembled an initial 20 pallets of supplies for urgent air transportation. Direct Relief is also in talks with medical manufacturers about securing and distributing supplies already in Ukraine, Poland and other nearby countries.

The initial supplies being mobilized include critical care medical items for blood pressure support, intubation/ventilation, IV fluids, antibiotics and more. Direct Relief is also responding to requests for Combat Application Tourniquets and bandages for Ukrainian civilians injured in the conflict.

Direct Relief has also received information from the Society of Critical Care Medicine indicating a dire need for tranexamic acid, which is used to control severe bleeding by blocking the breakdown of blood clots. 

The Ukrainian Ministry of Health also requested at least 500 of Direct Relief’s mobile medical outreach packs, including items such as CAT-style tourniquets, among other trauma-focused products. These medical outreach packs, designed in consultation with emergency physicians and public health officials, hold 8 kg of critical supplies needed by field medics.

Direct Relief is also preparing to deploy oxygen concentrators. The conflict is compounding chronic shortages of oxygen. There are currently 1,700 people being treated for Covid-19 in Ukraine and the WHO estimates that demand for oxygen due to the conflict is going to increase by 20 to 25 percent.

Direct Relief has shipped $26 million in medical aid to Ukraine over the past six months, with the most recent cache of support arriving last week containing $5.4 million in medical aid for a Ukrainian NGO that serves hospitals, ambulance stations and medical centers.

Refugees and Chronic Disease

When disaster or war forces people to flee their homes, they become vulnerable to new health problems while risking the exacerbation of existing conditions. Issues that arise when chronic disease conditions go untreated include worsening asthma leading to sudden attacks, spiking blood sugars from out-of-control diabetes, and an elevated risk for stroke and heart attack because people do not have cardiovascular medications. This inevitably creates a second wave of emergency medical needs.

Insulin and other cold chain medications are expected to soon be in short supply in Ukraine, with the Ukrainian Diabetes Federation reporting that there are some 15,000 children living with Type 1 diabetes in Ukraine.

On top of the chronic disease issues, acute problems arise with large fleeing populations. Examples include norovirus outbreaks, which can lead to severe vomiting and diarrhea in shelters, tuberculosis, polio, HIV and COVID.

Ukraine has the second-highest rates of HIV/AIDs in the region, and tuberculosis is a major challenge with high percentages of drug-resistant TB. In addition, Ukraine has been fighting a polio outbreak since late 2021.

New and pregnant mothers and their children are also going to be exceedingly vulnerable as the fighting continues. 

In certain areas, damage to gas and power infrastructure is also going to have a major impact, particularly with current temperatures hovering around zero.

Direct Relief’s Ongoing Response

Direct Relief, based in Santa Barbara, maintains the highest U.S. accreditation as a whole drug distributor and is the world’s largest charitable distributor of donated medicine and medical supplies. 

Direct Relief has been providing aid to Ukrainian healthcare providers, with a large shipment of diabetes supplies arriving last week. Since January 2021, Direct Relief has supplied Ukrainian healthcare providers with more than $27 million in medical aid. 

Direct Relief will continue collecting and fulfilling medical needs as the crisis unfolds and will post additional information as the situation evolves.

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SOURCE Direct Relief

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