Medical Teams International sends medical volunteers to aid Honduran flood survivors

U.S. volunteers join on-the-ground partners in Honduras

(PORTLAND, ORE. - Nov. 6, 2008) This Sunday, four volunteers with Medical Teams International arrive in flood-ridden Honduras, where torrential downpours have submerged houses, destroyed roads and affected 200,000 people.

Team members include Dr. Dave Wukasch of Auburn, Wash.; nurse/counselor Kathy Nussbaum of Kodiak, Alaska; Digger Smallwood; a physician assistant from Pacific Grove, Calif.; and Dr. Jon Bird of Farmington, Mo. The experienced humanitarian aid workers will collaborate with Medical Teams International's Honduran partner, Project Global Village (PGV), to treat people living in makeshift shelters and disperse lifesaving medicines.

"Back to back storms followed by three weeks of ongoing rains have made a hard situation nearly impossible," says Joe DiCarlo, director of emergency response at Medical Teams International. "The flooding has destroyed crops and forced people from their homes. Thousands of families are living in temporary shelters without adequate food, clean water or medical attention."

DiCarlo says the chief challenge in makeshift shelters is keeping communicable diseases at bay. "The lack of sanitary conditions exacerbates upper respiratory illnesses, skin infections...especially among the very young and the elderly. Many of these children already suffer from malnutrition, so this disaster puts them at higher risk for contracting preventable diseases."

Earlier this year, Medical Teams International provided $482,000 in medical supplies to Project Global Village-much of which was distributed before the floods arrived in mid-October. Last week, the Portland-based agency sent an additional $482,000 to Central America's second poorest country.

Because of the widespread devastation the flooding has caused, aid workers are comparing this current disaster to Honduras' Hurricane Mitch, a storm that killed 10,000 people in 1998.

Chet Thomas, executive director of Project Global Village, says the similarity is accurate. "If you add the anticipated food shortage caused by the crop damage, the situation is truly desperate."

More than 96 percent of all contributions received help people who need it most. Donations can be made to the Honduras Flood Relief fund, Medical Teams International, P.O. Box 10, Portland, OR 97207-0010; or by calling 800-959-4325. Gifts can also be made securely online; or at any local US Bank location.

Media contact: Barbara Agnew - 503.341.6620 (cell)
Non-media contact: 800.959.4325