The first construction project implemented through the Red Cross/Red Crescent earthquake operation in Turkey was inaugurated last week. The 3,400 square metres, single storey, prefabricated extension to the Kocaeli University Hospital in Izmit, north-western Turkey was completed within budget, with facilities for 140 inpatients and five operating theatres. It will also be used as a much needed training centre for medical students at the hospital, which was badly damaged in the earthquake of 17 August 1999. More than 17,000 people died and a further 40,000 were injured in the earthquake.
Among those attending the opening ceremony was Dr Ertan Gonen, President of the Turkish Red Crescent and Naoki Kokawa, Director of International Relief for the Japanese Red Cross, which funded the project through the International Federation. "The hearts of the people of Japan were touched by the earthquake tragedy in Turkey last August," Kokawa said. A second construction project is underway at the nearby state hospital in Izmit, with funding from the Singapore Red Cross.
Meanwhile a meeting attended by 18 donor Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, the International Federation and the ICRC was held in Ankara to review the relief operation to date and to plan for the future. Discussions focused on Turkish Red Crescent strategies and priorities including disaster preparedness, first aid and a series of proposals prepared by the Federation delegation covering health, rehabilitation and reconstruction. "Our goal now is to translate plans into action, " said Federation head of delegation Richard Grove-Hills.
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