WASHINGTON, DC – Nonprofit disaster response organization Airlink is answering the urgent need for medical workers in Rohingya refugee camps with new NGO partner Medical Teams International (MTI). Recent reports of highly contagious diphtheria, a spike in measles cases, and a lack of basic medical resources are prompting an urgent push for medical volunteers and preventative healthcare in what is now the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.
MTI provides healthcare and medical supplies during disasters. In response to the urgent need for rapid emergency support, Airlink and the Emirates Airline Foundation are delivering three MTI team members to Cox’s Bazar (the southern Bangladesh district bordering Myanmar). More than 655,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh as refugees in the past four months and an estimated 1.2 million people are in need of medical assistance.
MTI team members will coordinate services and build primary healthcare clinics and diarrhea treatment units as well as train refugees to become Community Health Workers.
“It is important to affirm [refugees] survival skills, resilience, and hope in addition to caring for their medical issues *like acute diarrhea, measles and diphtheria epidemics, malnutrition, etc,” said general surgeon and MTI team member Dr. James Peck. “We are teaching local Community Health Workers to be knowledgeable for their people.”
“MTI’s work treating and training refugees is a perfect example of what it looks like to work together in times of disaster,” said Airlink Executive Director Steven J. Smith. “The logistical support from great aviation partners like Emirates Airline Foundation enables Airlink to assist MTI and other medical relief organizations so they can focus their energy and resources on administering the lifesaving medicines, vaccines, and programs needed on the ground.”
MTI team member Jenny Stoecker arrived in Bangladesh shortly before the New Year and is coordinating MTI’s response plan for 2018.
“I know this crisis is difficult to comprehend – I stood in a sea of tents and still struggled to comprehend, but this difficulty cannot be met with apathy,” she wrote in an account of her first trip to Bangladesh in October. Stoecker says the best way for individuals to help is to educate themselves on the crisis and to give to organizations working on the crisis, like MTI and Airlink.
Airlink and MTI are working to send additional relief workers to Bangladesh in the near future.