It’s more than three weeks since the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria took over 50,000 lives and injured thousands more. With the immediate search and rescue effort now over, the scale of human impact and medical aid needed by so many is at the forefront of the ongoing recovery operation.
After deploying a team of medics and clinical support staff to Turkey just 48 hours after the first earthquake, we have been on the ground ever since with our field, or ‘pop-up’ hospital. The speed of UK-Med’s response, with all of the logistical complexities of an earthquake to consider, has already saved many lives.
Field hospitals are located close to the heart of a disaster. They’re fully equipped with vital medical equipment and staffed with a skilled team who deliver lifesaving treatment to men, women and children in the immediate aftermath.
The UK-Med pop-up is located in the Turkish town of Türkoğlu, around 30km from the earthquake epicentre in Nurdağı. Two further field hospitals are located close by and the three work cohesively.
In the last three weeks over 6,000 patients have been treated across the three hospitals.
Homelessness & Mental Trauma
In Turkey, more than 160,000 buildings containing 520,000 apartments collapsed or were severely damaged, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless. Doctor Richard Armitage, who is at the UK-Med pop-up, explains the psychological impact,
As well as the physical injuries and illnesses that we’re treating, growing numbers of people are coming to us displaying mental health symptoms.
“Psychological trauma is something that we expect – and prepare for – in the weeks that follow a disaster of this magnitude. After the initial shock, people try to process what has happened, what they’ve been through, and what it means for them and their family. It can be extremely painful to live through.
“We’re seeing very vulnerable people who need our help, so for us it’s about offering a safe space, showing that we care, and doing absolutely everything we can to treat and support them.”
Women & Children
Many pregnant women and women and children have visited the pop-up in the past few weeks, and UK-Med is preparing a special area for them, as Doctor Armitage explains, “We’re creating a child friendly area, a bit like a separate waiting room, specifically for mothers and their children. We’ll also offer a private space within that for women to breastfeed.
“Women will be able to wait with their children for their turn to see one of our medics, and then we’ll have toys and games for children to play with, too. We hope that this will not only provide a little cognitive stimulation, but a smile and a little bit of hope, too. We want to make their experience at the hospital as comfortable and dignified as we can.”
Since the UK-Med pop-up in Turkey was established, a dedicated team has been working tirelessly. In the next few days, this team will head back to the UK to rest, recover and see their loved ones, making way for a new team to take over. The new group will fly to Turkey in the coming days for an intense onboarding programme before getting straight to work treating patients.
How to help
UK-Med has been providing urgent and lifesaving medical support in response to disasters and emergencies, for over 30 years.
If you’re able to, please support our Turkey – Syria Earthquake appeal today with whatever gift you can give.
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