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AmeriCares Goes the Extra Mile

  • November 2, 2008

AmeriCares Goes the Extra Mile

Places that are the hardest to get to are often where AmeriCares is needed most. It’s a fact transportation is difficult in the developing world. Disasters – man-made or natural – only make access harder.  That’s why AmeriCares is committed to finding creative ways to deliver medicines and medical supplies. AmeriCares and our partners go to great lengths to reach people in need, helping speed recovery – be it by river, road or rail.

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Floating Hospital in Bolivia

Floating Medical Clinics in Bolivia

In the dense Amazon jungles of Bolivia, fully-equipped medical clinics travel the Mamoré River to bring modern health care to remote villages. Stocked with life-saving medicines and medical supplies from AmeriCares, the boats were donated by the Bolivian Navy and volunteers serve as medical personnel. Traversing the treacherous waters for up to a month at a time, the floating clinics serve as a life line to thousands of isolated villagers in river-bank communities. Some villages are located along inlets too small to allow the larger vessels to pass. Smaller boats attached to the main vessel are then outfitted with supplies and medical staff for delivery to people in need.

On a recent series of voyages, a single clinic provided health and dental care to nearly 2,000 villagers, including more than 50 minor surgeries.  Patients in need of more serious medical attention are transported on the boat to hospitals for critical care and are brought home to their families once they are on the road – and river – to recovery.

Motorcycle Convoy in India

AmeriCares India’s staff, including managing director Dr. Purvish Parikh, were recently part of a motorcycle gang of an altogether different sort. While surveying health conditions after floods ravaged the Indian state of Bihar, the team was part of a motorcycle convoy that delivered medicines from AmeriCares that helped treat children without access to a doctor. Bihar is slowly recovering from the worst India floods in more than 50 years. Bihar is one of the poorest states in India and is struggling with more than 3 million people displaced by the disaster. Its transportation system was in complete disarray in the aftermath of the flooding.

AmeriCares India toured several camps that housed thousands of flood survivors. Among them, the Baneshwar Asthan camp was the most challenging and distant, more than 5 miles away from the nearest passable road. Over rough terrain, dodging fallen trees and deep trenches, Dr. Parikh and relief workers traveled in a motorcycle convoy. Flood waters had still not receded and monsoon-like rains only made matters worse. Once they arrived, the convoy found the only sturdy bridge to the local village had been destroyed. The only means for the help to get in from the outside world was a long, fragile suspension bridge made from bamboo sticks and plant fibers.

Survivors were found crowded in a temple. No tents existed. Some were living in makeshift shelters by the river. Relieved to see the health convoy arrive with help, survivors waited patiently, despite the rain, to receive much needed medical attention, as well as donations of  food, water and clothes.

Health Train in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan’s Health Train filled with medicines and medical supplies from AmeriCares traveled across the autonomous Karakalpak Republic to reach some of the country’s most isolated communities around the shrinking Aral Sea. Without routine access to health care, some 90% of the 3,000 people who received medical exams needed treatment. Since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Uzbekistan has been working to develop an independent health care system despite numerous health challenges and limited resources.

AmeriCares in-country partner, the Soglom Avlod Uchun Foundation, organizes the Health Train to bring medical aid to low-income population groups in remote areas of Uzbekistan. The Health Train carries doctors, health care workers, medicines, hygiene supplies, writing materials, apparel, food, and diagnostic medical equipment donated by AmeriCares and other nonprofit organizations.

During the latest trip of the Health Train, the medical team saw nearly 100 disabled people, almost half of them young children. AmeriCares commitment to health extends to helping the disabled gain increased mobility. Wheel chairs and walking aids donated by our generous corporate partners were delivered to those in need.

AmeriCares goes to great lengths to deliver aid … wherever and whenever it is needed.

Help us deliver aid. We’ll get it there, no matter what.