Weeks, months, even years after the disaster is no longer news, we stay for as long as we are needed to help the health system recover – stronger and better prepared for the next disaster.
With each disaster, different unmet needs appear:
After the Japan Tsunami, mobile dental care for the elderly;
After Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, new generators for damaged community health centers;
After the Nepal Earthquake, physical rehabilitation services for injured earthquake survivors in remote communities;
In Ecuador, a temporary health facility to serve patients while a new one was being built.
And after a growing number of crises in Texas, Puerto Rico, Nepal and elsewhere – mental health and psychosocial support to deal with trauma and loss has risen to the top of the list of unmet needs in the weeks and months after the disaster has fallen out of public view. Rebuilding a damaged health facility can often be done in months, rebuilding a shattered life can take a lot longer. We can train local health workers to identify mental health problems, provide an emergency intervention or direct a referral for more treatment. This care extends to the caregivers who are often survivors themselves.
When health gaps are identified, plans are developed with local partners to fill those gaps. Often it may involve work on the health facilty. After major disasters, Americares invests in stronger clinic walls and roofs to protect patients and staff along with basic equipment and the necessary training to meet the challenges of the next disaster. The exact physical improvements each health center needs varies.