Responding to Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

by International Medical Corps
Responding to Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

Project Report | Jan 30, 2024
Turkiye and Syria Earthquake Response One-year In

By Michael Hall | Senior Advisor

It’s been 10 months since two devastating earthquakes and a series of powerful aftershocks struck Syria and Türkiye, killing more than 50,000 people and injuring more than 100,000. The 7.8- and 7.5-magnitude quakes caused significant damage to more than 500,000 buildings, completely destroying at least 298,000 and leaving communities in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

In Syria, at least 8.8 million people were affected by the disaster, with more than 7,250 people killed,3 11,200 injured and more than 500,000 internally displaced. The impact of the quakes was particularly dire given that health and other critical infrastructure was already fragile, and humanitarian needs high, following nearly 12 years of war. Many internally displaced persons (IDPs) are still living in temporary camps and shelters. The inadequate and overcrowded living conditions, plus the lack of access to clean water, led to outbreaks of scabies and cholera in March. On August 8, the Syrian Ministry of Health raised the prices of local medicines by up to 50%, making many of them unaffordable and further affecting those who suffer from chronic illnesses. Ten months on, outbreaks remain a significant challenge.

In Türkiye, the quakes killed almost 46,000 people, injured thousands more and displaced more than 2.7 million. Ten months later, some 800,000 are still living in tents in temporary settlements and are expected to continue living in these settlements throughout the winter, increasing the risk of disease and other health concerns.

Due to continued and widespread displacement, the need for health support in quake-affected areas throughout the region remains critical—particularly access to antibiotics and chronic disease medications, wound-care and physicalrehabilitation services, maternal and pediatric healthcare, and cholera and other infectious-disease prevention and treatment. Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) is also quickly becoming one of the most urgent needs. There are additional concerns for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, who have been exposed to high levels of stress and are at an increased risk of complications, such as first-trimester loss.

International Medical Corps’ Response

In the 10 months since the quakes struck, International Medical Corps has been working with local authorities and partners to provide essential healthcare services to affected communities by deploying mobile medical units (MMUs), and by procuring and distributing essential medicines, medical equipment and supplies. In addition to primary care, our teams have been providing sexual and reproductive health services, MHPSS, protection—including gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and support, and child protection (CP)—and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.

Syria Response

Health services: International Medical Corps is operating (directly or in coordination with partners) 24 MMUs, ensuring that we can provide continuous primary care and integrated health services for people in Aleppo, Hama and Latakia governates—including IDPs living in camps and shelters. Each MMU can include an internist, gynecologist, pediatrician, health educator, pharmacist, an MHPSS specialist, protection specialist and/or a case manager. The MMUs are flexible and can be integrated with various or single services, based on the needs. Our main MMUs offer health and nutrition services, with MHPSS, physical therapy and rehabilitation (PTR), GBV/CP and surgical services integrated based on the needs of where they are deployed.

The MMUs have provided more than 350,000 primary care, emergency, surgical and outpatient health consultations, and reached more than 29,000 people through nutrition screenings, awarenessraising sessions and distribution of nutritional supplies to children and pregnant and lactating women. They also have referred more than 600 people for malnutrition care.

The need for PTR services for those who sustained injuries as a result of the quakes has greatly increased. To meet this need, International Medical Corps deployed six standalone PTR MMUs and established three static PTR facilities. Since their establishment in April, these three facilities have provided services to 3,560 people and distributed 718 assistive mobility devices. We also trained 1,922 caregivers on how best to assist family members and friends with disabilities, and provided capacity-building training to 193 physiotherapists—117 through in-person training and 76 through online sessions.

The MMUs have also been assessing gaps and needs in collaboration with local authorities and health departments in Aleppo, Hama and Latakia. Based on these assessments, International Medical Corp is in the process of deploying three more MMUs that will provide essential health services to more than 16 communities that until now have lacked health access.

International Medical Corps is also deploying ambulances to support referrals for people requiring specialized medical services, and so far has supported the transfer of 1,819 patients. We continue to work on establishing an effective referral system for secondary and tertiary healthcare, including MHPSS.

MHPSS and PROTECTION: Given the significant needs, International Medical Corps integrated MHPSS services into 13 of the 24 MMUs and protection services into seven MMUs. Since February, more than 42,000 mental health, psychological first aid and mhGAP consultations have been provided. Additionally, in the last three months alone, we have registered 3,044 people for case management, referrals, and community outreach and awareness-raising services.

The MMUs featuring protection services have facilitated the identification of vulnerable people and helped ensure that they received necessary care and support. They have so far provided individual protection assistance for 1,486 cases, as well as consultations to women, adolescent girls and children, older people and people with disabiltiies currently living in temporary shelters and camps. Through our individual protection fund, International Medical Corps has supported more than 4,400 women, children and caregivers facing financial hardships, providing some $190,000 in financial support. MMUs featuring protection services also run awareness-raising sessions and provide safe spaces where children can express their fears and emotions. GBV and CP specialists have distributed almost 7,000 dignity kits to women and girls, and 1,187 toys to affected children.

Separately, International Medical Corps continues to operate two MHPSS hotlines that provide services from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, including weekends, in affected areas in northern Syria.

Health system report: International Medical Corps continues to support local health facilities that are still functioning 10 months after the quakes by procuring and delivering essential medicines, medical equipment and supplies, as well as NFIs.

In Aleppo, we are making substantial progress toward fully equipping an operating room and a maternity center at Al-Razi Hospital. International Medical Corps is also providing the hospital with a CT scanner and MRI software, which will significantly improve its diagnostic capabilities. Because the need for reconstructive surgeries for quake survivors remains high, International Medical Corps is equipping a second operating room at the National Hospital in Latakia with medical equipment, such as an X-ray machine.

WASH: International Medical Corps’ WASH team is working to ensure access to clean water, as well as sanitation and hygiene facilities, to people affected by the quakes. During the onset of the emergency, our teams ditributed oral rehydration solution, hygiene kits and water. Now, our teams are working closely with local authorities and an engineering company in Hama governorate to install a solar power system at a water pumping station. The station, which operates three submersible pumps and two horizontal pumps, is expected to provide drinking water for 125,000 people in Suran Hama and Tibet Al Imam. In addition, International Medical Corps is planning on providing local health facilities in Aleppo and Hama governorates with solar-powered systems to improve resilience and help ensure health access in the event of future disasters.

Türkiye Response

International Medical Corps is working with local partners to support IDPs in Türkiye by procuring and distributing food, water and essential NFIs, including clothing, towels, blankets, hygiene kits and water purification kits. International Medical Corps is also working to deliver primary healthcare and MHPSS services, as well as medical supplies.

In partnership with Yeryüzü Doktorlar, International Medical Corps supported three primary healthcare facilities providing 6,393 health consultations in Gaziantep, Hatay and Kahramanmaras and offering integrated MHPSS services. In partnership with International Blue Crescent (IBC), International Medical Corps distributed drinking water, nutrition packages, winter clothing and canned food in Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras and Kilis, and will provide physical rehabilitation services in Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras. In partnership with the Association of Assistance, Solidarity and Support for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (MSYD-ASRA), International Medical Corps is distributing NFIs to people in shelters, including blankets, food baskets, diapers, towels and hygiene kits.

 

International Medical Corps is continuting to partner with MYSD-ASRA to install additional sanitation facilities and provide physical rehabilitation services in Hatay. In addition, in partnership with MSYD-ASRA and IBC, International Medical Corps began physical rehabilitation services on August 1, so far reaching 312 people and training 188 caregivers, and will continue providing physcial rehabilitation services through three static facilities and 11 mobile units.

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Oct 2, 2023
Aid Needed Eight Months After Turkey/Syria Quake

By Moushumi Sharma | Communications Officer

Jun 6, 2023
Turkiye and Syria Four Months After Earthquakes

By Mike Hall | Senior Advisor

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Organization Information

International Medical Corps

Location: Los Angeles, CA - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Michael Hall
Los Angeles , CA United States
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