Turkey-Syria Earthquake: Navigating the Challenges of Disaster Relief

On Saturday, the death toll in Turkey and Syria rose to over 25,000 as rescue teams from around the globe continued their efforts to save lives.

They are working tirelessly to locate and extract survivors who are trapped in the debris of collapsed structures.

According to local accounts, the earthquake, combined with snow conditions, has also hindered critical logistical operations, including those for medical and emergency services.

Rescue Efforts in Turkey and Syria Continue

According to Thomas Tighe, the CEO of Direct Relief since 2000, there is a massive increase in demand for health services, due to the surge in injuries.

There is also a significant reduction in available health services as health facilities are destroyed and there exists a depletion of medical supplies, equipment, and inventory.

Additionally, there is a lack of information and disruptions in supply channels necessary for effectively addressing the significant gap in resources that emerges in the aftermath of a disaster.

The aftermath of a disaster often results in substantial shortages and limited resources to address immediate needs.

This is currently the case in Turkey and Syria, where it is reported over 60,000 individuals have suffered injuries. The World Health Organization states 15 hospitals in Turkey have been destroyed.

Meanwhile, in northwestern Syria, a minimum of 57 healthcare facilities, including hospitals and primary health centers, have sustained partial damage or had to temporarily halt services as a result of the earthquake.

According to Tighe, disruptions in supply channels can lead to confusion and congestion; so sending resources that are not specifically needed can only further complicate the situation.

He stated, “Sending stuff that isn’t on-point just clogs up the channels.”

Addressing the Challenges of Disaster Relief

When it comes to disaster relief, the need for prompt action is imperative. Every moment counts when lives are at stake.

However, it is also important to ensure the correct resources are being deployed. Information can be unclear during a crisis, making it challenging to identify specific needs.

Sending resources that are not relevant can only add to the confusion and slow down the response efforts.

As the CEO of Direct Relief, Thomas Tighe, explains, “In a crisis, time is of the essence, but we cannot sacrifice the quality of our response. Sending the right supplies is critical, as any mistakes could hinder our ability to help those in need.”

To tackle this challenge, Direct Relief leverages data from previous disaster response operations to identify patterns in the most commonly requested medicines for specific emergencies.

With this information, Direct Relief’s Head of Pharmacy, Alycia Clark, and her team are able to anticipate the need for medicines and supplies. They begin the process by examining the types of injuries that are most prevalent in disaster situations.