By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew
Direct Relief-chartered Boeing 747 jets departed Los Angeles International Airport on Feb. 4 carrying more than $7 million in prescription medicines as well as supply modules to sufficiently equip 83 health facilities in Liberia and Sierra Leone that affected by Ebola, according representatives for the nonprofit organization.
The supplies – expected to supply the facilities for several months – will help restore medical facilities weakened by the worst outbreak of Ebola in history.
With the substantial decrease in new Ebola cases in recent weeks, the airlift represents a pivot toward helping local health facilities deal with both the pre-existing health challenges exacerbated by the outbreak as well as the still serious threats that Ebola presents.
According to Andrew MacCalla, director of emergency response and international programs for the nonprofit medical relief organization, dozens of primary care facilities shuttered during the crisis; malaria and other conditions went untreated; vaccination programs were suspended, prompting a recent measles outbreak; and pregnancy-related complications saw an uptick as more women gave birth at home.
“As the focus shifts to long-term health systems strengthening in West Africa, these items will help restore confidence in health care for both providers and people seeking care,” he said.
Each module contains 36 of the essential supplies needed to operate a functional medical clinic for two months, including items such as surgical gowns, gloves, masks, lanterns, medical disposal bins, and non-contact thermometers. The contents were developed in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ministry of Health of Liberia, and Last Mile Health.
The supplies contained in the modules were donated, in part, by the city of Yokohama, 3M, BD, California Nurses Foundation, and OneMillionLights. Additional supplies were purchased through a grant from The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.
Another 17 modules will ship later in the month for a total of 100 modules. In Liberia, 40 modules will be distributed by Last Mile Health. In Sierra Leone, 10 modules will be distributed by Wellbody Alliance and 50 modules will be distributed by Medical Research Centre. Prescription medicines contained on the airlift will also be delivered to all three of these partners, as well as to Africare in Liberia.
The pharmaceutical supplies were made possible by Accord Healthcare, Inc., Actavis Pharma, Inc., Bayer Corporation – USA, Baxter International, Inc., GSK, Hospira, Inc., Mylan Laboratories, Inc., Prestige Brands, and Teva Pharmaceuticals.
Since Direct Relief began responding to the Ebola outbreak last spring, the organization has sent 40 shipments of Ebola relief aid valued at $25 million (wholesale), which have been distributed to more than 1,000 clinics and health centers in West Africa, in coordination with partner agencies.