Building on 30 years of experience responding to emergencies and helping communities recover, AmeriCares works with local partners in high-risk countries to help them prepare for and effectively respond to disasters.
Preparedness is a proven means to reduce destruction, injury and death: Research shows that $1 invested into preparedness and other risk reduction measures can save $2 to $10 in disaster response and recovery costs.
We collaborate with communities and health responders in training, exercises, contingency planning, pre-positioning of supplies and community disaster risk reduction projects. Such work is critical as more than 200 million people are directly affected by natural disasters each year—98 percent in developing countries—and disasters, particularly weather-related events, are increasing in incidence and severity.
Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction
AmeriCares is leveraging local and global partnerships to develop and implement community-based disaster preparedness and risk reduction projects in El Salvador, Myanmar and the Philippines and is looking to expand to other countries. These projects include best practices and international standards for community disaster risk reduction and public health preparedness, reflecting our longstanding commitment to health.
Our Work in the U.S.
In the U.S., we strengthen institutional readiness and empower local clinics to continue serving vulnerable populations after a disaster. We have provided community health centers with backup power generators, developed and implemented plans for sheltering people with medical needs, collaborated to develop data tools, including a data collection and sharing tool for community health centers. AmeriCares has also invested in telehealth technology for emergency response vehicles in communities at risk for tornadoes to ensure patients get the medical care they need after a disaster.
AmeriCares launched a Global Pre-Positioning Initiative in early 2012 to help ensure that high risk countries have relief and emergency supplies prior to a disaster. Pre-positioning dramatically cuts down on response time, saving lives. In two years, 17 partners in 14 countries received support for emergency supply purchases and our pre-positioned emergency supplies helped more than 22,000 disaster survivors.
AmeriCares and icddr,b (International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh) are working together to improve worldwide response to cholera as part of the Global Cholera Preparedness Initiative. AmeriCares has pre-positioned cholera supply modules with enough medicines and critical supplies to treat 15,000 people and, with icddr,b, trained health providers on effective cholera treatment. Through this Clinton Global Initiative commitment, AmeriCares preparedness programs have reached Bangladesh, Haiti, Kenya, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Somalia and South Sudan. We are also helping local partners reach more than 600,000 people with education campaigns and sanitation infrastructure improvements to reduce the number of cases in Haiti – currently the world’s largest cholera outbreak.
Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services
The longer term mental health issues following a disaster present challenges for stressed health care systems in disaster prone countries, including the U.S. In the U.S. we equip health and social service professionals with skills to reduce stress and build coping strategies, helping providers continue serving their patients affected by a disaster. For example, in partnership with the Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital we train pediatric providers to identify, treat and/or refer children with mental health issues. In the Philippines, we have trained over 2,300 health workers and community leaders to provide mental health services to survivors facing trauma and loss after a disaster.