A number people have contacted Physicians for Peace recently to ask if we plan to send medical supplies or volunteers to Japan.
Will Physicians for Peace send missions or supplies to Japan?
No. Physicians for Peace is a nonprofit focused on education, not relief. Recovery efforts in Japan will require capabilities specific to disaster relief and expert advice on nuanced cultural issues. These requirements are not within our core programs or areas of expertise.
Then why did you provide aid to Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake?
Physicians for Peace had a long history of working with in-country partners in Haiti before the earthquake. We built upon those strong connections immediately after the disaster to help found the Haitian Amputee Coalition, through which we’ve been able to deliver clinical care, education and training. In the past year, our solid network – and the support of new partners like ChildFund International – has empowered us to focus increasingly on sustainable education models for Haitian healthcare workers.
Isn’t it splitting hairs to say, “that’s not what we do,” in a disaster situation?
When it comes to humanitarian aid and global health, good intentions alone can cause more harm than good. After the earthquake in Haiti, many groups rushed to provide aid without considering the long-term implications of that assistance – or whether their skill set was one the country needed. We believe we can effect meaningful change when we work with partners on a clear set of objectives. The disaster in Japan does not meet these requirements.
How can people help the victims of the disasters in Japan?
When people call our office asking about missions to Japan, we direct them to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) better positioned to effectively respond to this specific situation. InterAction, an alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs, including Physicians for Peace, has a list of groups working in Japan. For more information, visitwww.interaction.org.