University-hosted charity heads to Turkey-Syria earthquake zone

A rescue team from frontline medical response charity UK-Med is on its way  to the parts of Turkey and Syria devastated by last week’s earthquake to lead the UK's initial medical assessment team.

It’s the latest mission for the charity, hosted by The University of Manchester, which has  been working for over 30 years to provide healthcare for people affected by disasters.

The earthquake in south east Turkey and north west Syria was the biggest to affect the region since 1938. So far, it’s estimated that more than 17,000 people have died.

Hundreds of houses were destroyed in the quake, leaving thousands homeless in freezing conditions :it had been snowing for three days leading up to the earthquake, however, many people still remain outside.

UK-Med CEO David Wightwick, who is also Director of Humanitarian Interventions at the University’s Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) , boarded a flight on Tuesday with a team of surgeons, paramedics, emergency medical staff, operations and logistics staff.

In an urgent message on Tuesday he wrote: “This morning myself and my team of five boarded a flight from Birmingham to Gaziantep, Turkey, near to the epicentre of the first earthquake.

“Our field hospitals and significant medical equipment can be mobilised from the UK very quickly to help us respond to any needs we identify or are requested to support.

“More NHS staff are likely to join us, but it’s vital to arrive first and see how we can best help.”

It will be an international co-ordinated response, and UK-Med and my entire team are ready to deliver our crucial emergency medical care where it will be most needed. 

David Wightwick, UK-Med CEO

The first job of the team will be to conduct a health assessment of the disaster affected areas, including assessing the functionality of any pre-existing health facilities.

They will also liaise with local and international partners, Ministry of Health in Turkey, World Health Organisation (WHO) and other organisations on the ground to identify the most urgent humanitarian need.

He added: It will be an international co-ordinated response, and UK-Med and my entire team are ready to deliver our crucial emergency medical care where it will be most needed.

“Our overall aim will be to help support an overwhelmed health system and alleviate the suffering of those affected by the disaster.

Professor Larissa Fast, Executive Director and Professor of Humanitarian and Conflict Studies at the HCRI said: “We at HCRI are proud of the work that UK-Med and our other NGO partners are doing to respond to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, and the experience they will bring to bear on the ground. We grieve the loss of so many lives in this devastating event.”

UK-Med has more than thirty years’ experience of responding to natural disasters and providing urgent medical and health care.

If you want to support the charity’s Turkey Syria earthquake response, click here

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