USA - The Medical Teams International distribution center in Portland, Oregon, is a 21,000-square-foot warehouse that can house more than 550 pallets on 11 floor-to-ceiling rows. Four staff members and hundreds of volunteers examine the incoming supplies weekly--checking expiration dates and tossing damaged goods. Their quality control is meticulous and necessary for the hundreds of thousands of people these supplies will help
Donations save lives in Iraq, Mali, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan
Volunteers help sort and pack thousands of medical supplies at Medical Teams International's distribution center each year. (Photo by Tracey Goldner)
Companies donating supplies and essential medicines to Medical Teams International rarely know where the donations will go, or who they will help. What they do know is that those medicines and supplies will go to those who need them. Their donation may even make the difference between life and death.
Donations delivered to international headquarters in Portland, Oregon, begin their journey in the 21,000-square-foot distribution center that can hold more than 550 pallets on 11 floor-to-ceiling rows. Four staff members and dozens of volunteers examine and sort the supplies daily—checking expiration dates and recycling damaged goods. Their quality control is meticulous and necessary for the hundreds of thousands of people these supplies will help.
The bandages, IVs, rolls of gauze, eye packs, syringes, sutures, antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, analgesics, anti-fungals, wheelchairs, walkers and canes come to Medical Teams International as generous donations from multiple companies across the nation and leave weeks or months later as humanitarian aid for destinations around the world.
Essential medicines to Iraqi children & young women
In September 2007, Medical Teams International facilitated a $760,000 air-shipment to Baghdad of needed antibiotics, chronic disease medicines and pain relievers. “We are thrilled the medicine arrived and is getting to the children who need it,” says Deborah Agre of Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), who received the supplies.
The delivery arrived at the Children’s Welfare Teaching Hospital in Baghdad on September 20. An estimated 2,400 patients will benefit—many of them children under five—and young women.
“This shipment provided medicines that would otherwise be impossible for the hospital to obtain,” says David Beltz, the director for commodity support at Medical Teams International. “These donated medical supplies will ensure that thousands of Iraqis have access to lifesaving drugs in the coming months.”
Lifesaving vaccines to Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan
Meningitis vaccines arrived in Tashkent, Uzbekistan's capital, on a refrigerated airplane.
Medical Teams International procured meningitis vaccines from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals during the summer of 2007. Bacterial meningitis is a disease that swells the lining of the brain and spinal column and can cause permanent brain damage—or even death.
When a survey of our field offices revealed that the Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan Ministries of Health needed this vaccine for nationwide vaccination campaigns, Medical Teams International air-shipped 10,000 doses of the vaccine to Uzbekistan, and another 1,000 doses to Sri Lanka.
“This particular type of shipment is logistically demanding because the vaccine must be refrigerated until it is administered to the patient,” says Beltz. “We sent the vaccine by air from the U.K. to Uzbekistan and Sri Lanka using a refrigerated transportation system.”
Container for Koutiala Hospital in Mali
"Generous donations from Medical Teams International allow Malian women to receive quality surgery," says Carey Schlieker, an RN at Koutiala Hospital in Mali. (Photo courtesy of Carey Schlieker)
When Medical Teams International shipped a 20-foot container to Koutiala Hospital in Mali, the hospital's staff stopped worrying about whether or not patients would be able to afford medical supplies prior to their treatment—now they treat patients regardless of their ability to pay.
Many hospitals in the developing world charge patients for all of their medical supplies and medicines before offering treatment, because they are very expensive.
“These donated supplies relieve the patient, the patient’s family and the caregivers of a tremendous burden,” says Carey Schlieker, an RN at Koutiala Hospital. “[The medicines and supplies] were what we requested. They were well-labeled, organized and easily transported.”
Helping hospitals and clinics save lives with supplies
Ruth Balo attends to a premature baby using our donated medical supplies. (Photo courtesy of Carey Schlieker)
“Essential medicines and supplies are important for health programs to achieve results,” says Beltz. Recipient hospitals and clinics of these shipments can carry out procedures and provide care that previously would have been impossible.
Before this container reached Koutiala Hospital in Mali, staff did not have the feeding tubes or oxygen equipment needed to keep premature babies alive.
“Now we have the ability to give oxygen and provide tube feedings for these children who would otherwise not live,” says Ruth Balo, a nurse’s aid at the hospital. “Thank you for giving moms of premature babies hope.”