Monday 11 September 2023 – UK-Med, the UK’s official Emergency Medical Team, has deployed a specialist team of humanitarian workers to Morocco following the earthquake.
UK-Med saves lives in emergencies by quickly deploying NHS staff to support in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.
The team of five humanitarian workers, funded by the UK government, who flew to Morocco this morning, comprises specialists in responding to large-scale humanitarian emergencies. It includes a medical lead, a paramedic, a water and sanitation engineer, a logistics expert and a team leader.
On arrival they will immediately conduct a rapid assessment to evaluate the most pressing humanitarian health needs; and evaluate the extent of damage to essential healthcare infrastructure. The team will be aware that the current local capacity of the health system may not be able to cope with and absorb the large numbers of wounded and sick.
Tom Godfrey leads the UK-Med team in Morocco. Tom has more than fifteen years of humanitarian leadership experience spanning Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
He says, “It’s rare for north Africa to be struck by earthquakes. Sadly, that means many of the buildings high in the Atlas Mountains where the disaster occurred won’t have been able to withstand the quake.
“More than 2,000 people are known to have died, and sadly the death toll is expected to rise. We know from experience in previous earthquake responses such as February’s Turkey/Syria that many more people could be trapped under fallen masonry. We also know that earthquakes can destroy or overwhelm pre-existing health infrastructure, which hampers timely access to health services for survivors. Injuries and trauma of varying degrees, as well as soft tissue infections are the major initial concerns expected during the first few days after an earthquake.
“Additionally, water and foodborne diseases, respiratory and close contact infections can all be anticipated to increase over the coming weeks and months after an earthquake of this scale. That’s why identifying areas where medical services are deficient is important to ensure the most appropriate medical care is provided to prevent these types of illnesses from spreading.
“Rescues teams will work around the clock to free the survivors and then they will need urgent medical attention. That's what we offer through the rapid deployment of NHS trained staff, including surgeons, trauma nurses, obstetricians, and other life-saving roles.``
UK-Med is the only UK based emergency medical team (EMT) to be approved by the World Health Organization. It is also the only UK based medical charity to partner as an EMT with the UK government during overseas humanitarian disaster. If requested, UK-Med can quickly deploy a full field hospital in support of a WHO or UK government response to the quake in Morocco.
“For now, its vital important that we conduct a rapid assessment of the humanitarian health needs to determine how best we can support the people impacted by this devastating earthquake,” adds Mr Godfrey.
UK-Med launch Morocco emergency appeal
To support UK-Med’s work in Morocco public donations are encouraged at uk-med.org/donate-now
Tom Godfrey says, “Please give generously to support our appeal. We rely on the support of the public to fund our life-saving work. It costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to deploy a full field hospital with dozens of specialist NHS staff. We’re a small nimble medical aid charity, and your donation will help us to save lives.”
UK-Med has more than thirty years’ experience responding to humanitarian emergencies, including the war in Ukraine and the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, by providing rapid medical care for affected communities.
With a roster of nearly 1,000 NHS and international doctors, nurses, paramedics, logisticians and other allied non-health professionals who are highly skilled in emergency work, UK-Med provides an on-call system for global health relief.
In the last year alone, UK-Med has deployed more than 400 personnel, provided treatment for 35,000 patients around the world, and has trained 11,000 local medical staff.
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