OECS and Direct Relief Joint Media Release
Tuesday, June 6, 2023 — The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Direct Relief have renewed their partnership for emergency preparation and response. Renewal of the original 2019 agreement will allow the two organizations to deepen their regionwide approach to helping small island nations in the Caribbean prepare for and respond to hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Warmer oceans caused by climate change have increased the severity of the hurricanes that batter the region year after year. The Caribbean experienced 70 named tropical cyclones across 19 countries between 1980 and 2019.
The original 2019 partnership agreement enabled Direct Relief to strengthen its emergency preparation and response capabilities across the Caribbean following 2017’s Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devasted islands across the region. Direct Relief collaborated directly with the Ministries of Health in Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Dominica to respond to the 2017 hurricanes, leading to the broader partnership with the OECS.
“’The OECS has had a close and valued relationship with Direct Relief,”
said OECS Director General Dr. Didacus Jules.
“In every disaster that has struck the OECS Member States, they have been a proactive and reliable partner providing precisely the kinds of support necessary to expedite our recovery. Direct Relief does not wait for a disaster to strike – they monitor predictions and pre-position supplies in anticipation of the worst. We are deeply appreciative of this level of partnership.”
Under the partnership, Direct Relief prepositions Hurricane Prep Packs, large caches of the medical items most commonly needed in the wake of a disaster, including trauma supplies, antibiotics and wound care supplies, as well as medications for diabetes, hypertension, and respiratory, psychological and gastrointestinal ailments.
Direct Relief worked closely with OECS in responding to the Covid pandemic, dispatching personal protective equipment, Covid testing kits, ICU medical supply kits, and vaccine refrigerators and freezers to each member state. Covid supplies were consolidated at the main OECS warehouse in Saint Lucia and redistributed throughout the region. The two organizations also worked together to deliver emergency medical supplies after the 2021 eruption of a volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
“After a productive three-year partnership built on the shared mission of strengthening the emergency preparedness and response efforts of the OECS and their member states, Direct Relief is proud to renew our partnership agreement with the OECS,”
said Daniel Hovey, Direct Relief’s Director of Emergency Response and New Initiatives.
“With the expansion of our humanitarian depot in Puerto Rico, Direct Relief has reinforced our capacity to effectively respond to emergency situations throughout the Caribbean region. We look forward to continued collaboration with the OECS as we make further investments in the healthcare infrastructure of the Eastern Caribbean.”