Local healthcare providers in disadvantaged and medically underserved communities around the world rely on Direct Relief on an ongoing basis, during emergencies, and long after the immediate effects of disasters subside. In each circumstance, Direct Relief delivers requested resources to bolster stocks of medicines and supplies to solidify the healthcare infrastructure needed to receive and manage inventory and improve access to care for medically vulnerable populations.
In 2022, Direct Relief distributed more than $1.5 billion (wholesale value) of medicines and supplies to more health workers providing services to more people in more communities around the world than ever before in its 74-year history.
Direct Relief once again demonstrated the effectiveness of its flexible approach across all of its programmatic priorities, simultaneously sustaining existing programs – such as pre-positioning emergency preparedness materials ahead of hurricane season as it does every year – while mobilizing a large-scale response to the war in Ukraine.
This report provides an overview of how Direct Relief has leveraged contributions from generous individuals, companies, and foundations to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty and emergencies in 2022.
BOLSTERING CARE FOR DIABETES & CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH IN THE U.S.
The burden of non-communicable diseases continues to increase in low-resource communities. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer are responsible for a higher share of morbidity and mortality across geographies than most other diseases. These conditions are responsible for 74% of all deaths globally, disproportionately affecting people who are low-income or minorities and who rely on charitable medical support even in wealthy countries
Across the U.S., more than 30 million patients who are uninsured or underinsured rely on nonprofit community health centers and free or charitable clinics. More than 60 percent of the patients served are members of racial or ethnic minority communities. The disproportionate burden of disease borne by minority populations is the modern-day effect of a long history of discriminatory practices and policies. Direct Relief is working with local healthcare facilities that are deeply embedded in their communities to advance health equity and improve access to healthcare for underserved patients.
For years, health workers have shared that strengthening health systems in their communities requires more than medicine. Direct Relief has broadened its offerings to healthcare facilities to include infrastructure, storage, and operational improvements. Here are three new ways Direct Relief is lifting community health:
POWER FOR HEALTH
Without reliable access to power, critical services can’t be provided – lifesaving medicines go bad, electronic health records can’t be accessed, essential medical equipment can’t be powered, and vital community health facilities serving the most vulnerable shut down. In response to the demand by health centers and clinics for resilient power solutions, Direct Relief launched Power for Health.
The program strengthens renewable and reliable energy sources among clinics vulnerable to disasters. Withstanding storm impacts and other power shutoffs ensures uninterrupted operations during emergencies and power outages. Over the past year, Direct Relief-funded solar and backup battery installations were launched at 21 healthcare facilities in California, Louisiana, and North Carolina.
It’s another example of Direct Relief filling systemic gaps in health care by addressing sustainability issues, including climate change, while advancing health equity in medically vulnerable communities.
When Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico, solar power and battery storage installed in recent years at 8 health centers, 33 community wells, and 2 solar laundries in partnership with Direct Relief remained functional throughout the island-wide blackout.
STRENGTHENING COLD STORAGE
Medicines such as insulin, vaccines, and cancer therapies are temperature sensitive. Many nonprofit healthcare organizations are extremely limited in the cold storage capacity needed to receive and manage these supplies vital to providing lifesaving care.
Direct Relief has grown its cold chain capacity in recent years, increasing its ability to provide temperature-sensitive medications to healthcare providers globally. A dependable and secure cold chain is an increasingly important part of medical logistics and represents an increasing share of anticipated production among partner pharmaceutical companies.
BOLSTERING OXYGEN SUPPLY
In communities around the world, surges during the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted gaps in access to medical-grade oxygen at local healthcare facilities serving the most vulnerable. Over the past two years, Direct Relief has ramped up its efforts to work with healthcare facilities and nonprofits to address these needs. Since January 2020, Direct Relief has shipped or provided funding to procure more than 35,541 oxygen concentrators to healthcare facilities in 55 countries. These oxygen concentrators have been in high demand at hospitals worldwide, where health workers are still caring for people with Covid-19.
RAPIDLY MOBILIZING A LARGE-SCALE EMERGENCY RESPONSE IN UKRAINE
Direct Relief is deploying urgently needed medical aid directly to Ukraine’s Ministry of Health, with which it has a standing agreement, and to other on-the-ground organizations in Ukraine and throughout the region. Since the war broke out, Direct Relief has delivered over 1,030 tons of medical assistance, including trauma kits, cancer drugs, insulin, antidotes used in chemical attacks, and other critical medical products, to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health and other healthcare providers.
Direct Relief has also supplied the Ukrainian Ministry of Health with hundreds of emergency medical backpacks for first responders working in the field who are dealing with injuries, trauma, infections, and other acute medical needs. The organization remains engaged and committed to the communities it supports long after the initial emergency subsides through the process of recovery and rebuilding. Amidst the war, Direct Relief has expanded its connections with pharmaceutical companies throughout Europe and Ukrainian hospitals to be better positioned to provide sustained long-term support.
Ukraine Relief includes:
- 1,030+ tons of medical aid
- $20 million in cash assistance
- 400+ hospitals & clinics
Medical copays for Ukrainian refugees
The situation in Ukraine created challenges that could not be addressed exclusively by shipments of medicines, supplies, and equipment. Ukrainian refugees are eligible for medical care upon entering Poland but face high copays for prescription medications that many fleeing without income or resources do not have the means to purchase.
Direct Relief partnered with Pelion, Poland’s largest healthcare company, to offset prescription copays for this population, primarily consisting of women, children, and older adults, at pharmacies across the country. The program has connected more than 270,000 Ukrainian refugees in Poland with medications they need to maintain their health, free of charge.
This post was originally published on Direct Relief.