To date, 150 Physician Travel Packs have been delivered to partners around the world for emergency relief in 2008. Haiti and the Caribbean region have received 66 PTPS, while 34 were delivered to Myanmar, 28 to China and 24 to Zimbabwe thanks to the generosity of Canadian healthcare companies.
In the Caribbean region, Health Partners International of Canada responded by sending emergency medical relief to victims of the recent onslaught of hurricanes. Four deadly storms killed hundreds of people in Haiti in less than a month, and with much of the infrastructure washed away, the situation was desperate.
Our partners on the ground in the Caribbean ensured the direct and rapid delivery of medical aid to the people who needed it most.
Physician Travel Packs and other life-saving medicines went to the Bethesda Medical Clinic on the outskirts of Cap-Haitïen as well as the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, the primary medical facility in the Northwest province. Patients were seen at health centres and mobile clinics.
In Cuba, the storms caused serious damage to several hospitals and HPIC responded by sending 120 beds and mattresses at the Cuban Ministry of Health (MINSAP).
The May of misfortune
Cyclone Nargis hit land in Myanmar on May 2, 2008. As organizations around the world were still negotiating aid endeavours, a major earthquake struck the Sichuan area of China on May 12. HPIC responded to both of these disasters with donated Canadian medicine.
Medical aid for Myanmar was channelled through the Canadian group CW Asia Fund and used on the ground by AZG (Médecins Sans Frontières, Holland). AZG reports working with local staff to deliver medical aid through fixed and mobile clinics in more than 300 villages. According to Nina Cassils of the CW Asia Fund, “Working directly with excellent global organizations with outposts in Myanmar allowed the donations to be used effectively for the benefit of the cyclone victims.”
Two Canadian groups also carried Physician Travel Packs from HPIC into China. The first group of five healthcare professionals took PTPs to a clinic in an IDP (internally displaced persons) camp. “The staff working at the clinic were very very grateful to receive the PTPs,” reported Valerie Rzepka of the Canadian Medical Assistance Teams. “Their supplies were beginning to run low as the conditions in the IDP camp continued to deteriorate.”
The second team to respond to the earthquake disaster was led by the Hon. Raymond Chan, former Liberal MP for Richmond B.C., who travelled to his home country of China with two physicians to bring relief to victims.
“I want to do something practical and meaningful for the victims of this disaster. I can’t think of anything better than bringing health care to their doorstep,” said Chan.
“As Canadians we must continue to demonstrate our compassionate spirit by helping those who are in need around the world whenever we have the ability to do so.”
Zimbabwe on the brink
The people of Zimbabwe continue to experience some of the most difficult conditions imaginable as the country’s political and economic meltdown, combined with very high HIV/AIDS levels, has led to a humanitarian disaster.
Canada’s healthcare companies responded very generously to a special appeal to help Zimbabweans with more than $3 million in product donations. Apart from 24 PTPs for emergency relief, HPIC worked in collaboration with the Salvation Army’s Howard Hospital in rural Zimbabwe to deliver a large shipment of special medicines and supplies that is bringing health and hope to thousands of adults and children.
The Canadian doctor who runs Howard Hospital, Dr. Paul Thistle, said “I am glad … to see friends who care, who look beyond the political situation of the day and seek to help Howard Hospital at the grassroots level to deliver medicine, surgical and medical supplies on the ground to the 140,000 people who enter our doors every year. We can’t do it without the healthcare companies and the large support we have received and will continue to receive from HPIC.”