Friday, May 9, 2008

NGO Questionnaire Response: AmeriCares

Mr. Curt Welling of AmeriCares provided the following responses to the questionnaire that was posted yesterday for all interested NGOs. I will post all individual responses received, and also roll up into a spreadsheet early next week:

NGO Questionnaire Response: AmeriCares

What is AmeriCares "niche" in disaster recovery from an event such as Cyclone Nargis, particularly in a closed society such as that in Myanmar?

AmeriCares expertise or “niche” is in disaster recovery is the supply of medicines and relief supplies to health care providers; networking in partnership with governments, international bodies, NGOs and pharmaceutical donors to quickly and effectively deliver aid to those in need.

AmeriCares has over 25 years of experience providing disaster relief and recovery in countries with significant access and security issues. For example, AmeriCares has been working in Darfur since 2004 and is about to send its 10th airlift of medicines and medical supplies into West Darfur in a matter of weeks. We delivered aid into Iran following the Bam earthquake in December 2004 and into Pakistan following the earthquake in 2005. We have also delivered aid to politically and logistically challenging countries such as North Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq. We are successful in negotiating with governments by focusing on the main goal – providing immediate relief to their citizens suffering in the wake of a disaster.

Has your organization worked in the past in Myanmar / Burma?

Through AmeriCares Medical Outreach Program, we donate medical products to volunteer U.S. healthcare professionals who travel overseas to provide charitable medical care to some of the most marginalized and under-served people in more than 70 countries around the world. Many of the Medical Outreach Program missions have provided assistance to patients in Myanmar/Burma.

If so, what has been your organization's experience in working with the national government?

We are in the process of working through diplomatic channels to secure clearance for our people and aid.

What is AmeriCares involvement with Cyclone Nargis relief efforts at this point? Do you have personnel on the ground in Myanmar at this time?

AmeriCares has personnel on the ground in Bangkok. We are working through diplomatic channels to secure visas for them and additional expert aid workers and to receive clearance to deliver an initial airlift of over 15 tons of medicines and medical supplies to Myanmar. We are actively coordinating with aid agencies and NGOs in-country to assess the situation and determine what additional medicines and medical supplies will be needed to treat the short-term and long-term health complications brought on by the cyclone.

From a triage perspective, what are the most basic needs on the ground, and what is AmeriCares' role in meeting those needs? And in a longer range view, how do you see your participation in recovery efforts integrating into a post-recovery environment?

In a disaster, time is of the essence. Survivors need basic medical care, safe drinking water, food and shelter. And they need it quickly; a quick response ensures that a greater number of people can be saved.

In the case of a cyclone, basic first aid materials, antibiotics and water purification treatments are all desperately needed. AmeriCares has assembled an airlift containing 15 tons of antibiotics, analgesics, ointments and multivitamins as well as supplies such as water purification tablets to treat the immediate needs of those injured and to help prevent the anticipated spread of illness and disease throughout the region.

Post-recovery, AmeriCares is a partner in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of local health care infrastructures. AmeriCares played a critical role in the relief and reconstruction efforts in Indonesia and Sri Lanka following the December 2004 tsunami, in which some 160,000 people perished. We are still there, rebuilding hospitals, water and sanitation infrastructure, supporting training and providing medical equipment to many communities. In Indonesia and Sri Lanka, we have worked to construct and rehabilitate 44 health care facilities including hospitals, clinics and health posts, and have supplied over 200 health care facilities with equipment, medicine and medical supplies.

Given the scale of the destruction in Myanmar, we anticipate providing long-term aid and continuing to support healthcare workers on-the-ground.

Are you coordinating response with other NGOs or local relief agencies in Myanmar?

Yes. AmeriCares is working with the WHO Health Sector in Bangkok – the United Nation’s coordinating body for the relief effort in Myanmar. We are working with our international NGO colleagues and their local partners in Myanmar as well as teams that organize volunteer missions following natural disasters.

Anything else that you think is important for people to know about relief efforts in general, or AmeriCares involvement in particular?

At time of great natural disaster, many individuals are moved to do something to help ease the suffering of those most affected. AmeriCares encourages individuals that the best way to help victims of Cyclone Nargis is to donate money to reputable relief organizations. AmeriCares relies on donations of medicines, medical equipment and relief supplies from manufacturers and on financial donations to fund the transportation of relief aid to the affected areas. To learn more about how to donate to AmeriCares, visit:


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