A Global Links volunteer labels boxes for Cuba.
As our Founder, Kathleen Hower, says, "Global Links is there when the news cameras leave." When media attention wains and people go back to their daily lives, the recovery process after a devastating natural disaster is just getting started. Global Links' Disaster Recovery Projects begin when the first responders have completed their work. Our process for Irma recovery is carefully planned to meet the unique needs of the affected health institutions and the communities that access services at those institutions.
The first phase of our Irma Recovery project has just been completed with the last three material distributions having arrived in Cuba this week. All 5 health institution covered by the initial phase will have received their first round of materials. The second phase begins when our Director of International Medical Aid arrives in Cuba for a monitoring and evaluation visit in the spring. Each beneficiary institution will undergo a second needs assessment in preparation for another round of distributions that will be complete by the end of 2018.
Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm and the fifth strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, hit Cuba on September 7th. The storm impacted about 90% of the country with 13 of Cuba’s 15 provinces directly affected. With over 72 hours of impact on the island, the hurricane caused severe flooding and tidal waves forcing over 2 million people to evacuate.
From the severe inundations and winds over 250 km per hour, the island sustained serious damages to commercial and residential properties, the agricultural sector, electrical and transportation infrastructure, healthcare and tourism facilities, educational institutions, water and sanitation services, and wildlife ecosystems. Many coastal and mountain communities were left isolated due to river flooding and destroyed roads.
With 70% of healthcare facilities damaged in affected areas, there was a disruption in vital services in several hospitals (including surgery and radiology). Local and national authorities have worked to restore basic services and clear structural damages, but many healthcare facilities are facing a shortage of materials accompanied by an increased demand for medical attention.
Our Disaster Recovery Program in Cuba strengthened the capacity of 5 municipal and provincial reference hospitals which were prioritized by PAHO for serving the most severely-affected communities on the island (Remedios municipality in Villa Clara province, Yaguajay municipality in the Sanctí Spíritus province, Morón municipality in the Ciego de Ávila province, Baracoa municipality in the Guantánamo province, and Nuevitas municipality in the Camagüey province).
With a combined total value of $389,768.84, 5 distributions of medical materials - including gurneys, exam tables, dental chairs, OR tables (brand new, procured specifically for these shipments), surgical instruments, mobility equipment, and boxed supplies - are all due to arrive in Cuba by March 3rd to strengthen the Cuban Public Health System and support their ability to fully rehabilitate post-disaster.
The second phase of 5 shipments will begin in April. These are destined for these same 5 institutions in order to reinforce the first phase and maximize the impact on the public health system.
Thank you for your generous support of this project. Through recovery and rebuilding, Cuba's healthcare institutions will be better equipped than before the hurricane and the public healthcare system will better prepared to handle the next natural disaster.
Mike, Dave, and Joel finish loading a container.
GL dock with materials for a January shipment.