2020 saw the unprecedented confluence of a deadly global pandemic with natural disasters worldwide. In response to these unrelenting catastrophes, SEMA US this year worked on more fronts than ever before. This report provides an overview of how SEMA US has leveraged support from generous individuals, companies, and foundations to significantly expand operations while continuing ongoing services and support for local health systems in 2020.
By the numbers
- $310,000 in donations
- 19,800+ accommodated patients and provided free pharmacy
- $20,000 spent on prostheses for amputated patients
- 100 sponsored nursing and paramedics students
Strengthening health systems during COVID-19
SEMA US equips low-resource communities with health care services, medicines and supplies on an ongoing basis and in response to emergencies. In 2020, the organization has been called upon to continue its support for medically vulnerable communities and those still affected by disasters from previous years while the global Covid-19 pandemic has intensified. As most global commercial and humanitarian activity significantly contracted due to Covid-19, SEMA US drastically expanded its response efforts to:
- Provide medical materials, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), having delivered thousands of masks, gloves, and other PPE items free-of-charge to health workers on the frontlines of the pandemic
- Provide ventilators to help establish ICUs in community health centers to support their vital front-line role in providing access to health care, including Covid-19-related services
- Distribute hygiene bags which contains cleaning and hygiene materials to equip underprivileged refugee families affected by healthcare exclusion
- Raise awareness in refugee communities where access to proper medical information is lacking
- Provide proper healthcare workers’ training and education regarding COVID-19
- Provide screening triage areas with immediate temporal isolation shelters/tents
- Continuously disinfect SEMA medical centers, hospitals and offices
We do not know for certain how long this pandemic will last, but what is certain is that primary care and health centers are critical to our response.
Reaching out after the Beirut Explosion
Immediately after a devastating blast rocked Beirut, Lebanon, on August 4, some SEMA US staff who were already working in the country went to health facilities to see how they could assist medics responding to the emergency:
- Organized a donation of wound kits
- Treated people injured, free of charge
- Evaluated whether patients who need further surgery can be referred to and treated in one of our hospitals after they have been stabilized
- Assessed the most pressing needs in hospitals
- Identified additional ways to assist people under such tragic circumstances
Supporting women and children
In low-resource communities, improvements in maternal care and children’s health strengthen health systems overall. SEMA US teams at our medical projects, although trying their best to keep the core services running, are already seeing the painful indirect effects of the pandemic.
In 2020, SEMA US has supported midwives and other maternal and child healthcare providers with medicines and supplies, including:
- Equipping trained midwives to ensure safe births in medically vulnerable communities during the pandemic
- Providing access to sexual and reproductive healthcare
- Expanding with a Women and Children clinic in Lebanon to provide general medical assistance to women and children affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare access
As 2020 comes to a close and we reflect on a year shadowed by fear, uncertainty, and loss, many of us are also reminded of how precious life is. This holiday season, consider giving a gift that helps save lives at a time when so many lack access to health care.