RTW Charitable Foundation today announced a $50,000 donation to the Syrian American Medical Society (“SAMS”) Foundation, a global medical relief organization working on the front lines of crisis relief in Syria and beyond to save lives and alleviate suffering, to provide emergency relief to victims of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Southern Turkey along the border of Syria on February 6.
RTW Charitable Foundation’s mission is to power rare disease research, medical innovation, and humanitarian collaborations to improve the health of underserved communities. This Emergency Response Grant will support the development of a mental health response program, training local medical staff to assess physical and psychosocial needs among children, adults, and fellow staff and respond to patients with both immediate-term coping interventions and longer-term support as needed.
The earthquake, the deadliest natural disaster since the Haiti earthquake in 2010, has already taken the lives of over 50,000 and destroyed 139,000 buildings, leaving over a million people homeless in winter conditions. SAMS currently has 2,400 local staff responding to the crisis across 40 medical facilities, where over 40% of doctors and staff have been displaced by the earthquakes.
“The devastation we’re seeing in Turkey and Syria goes beyond the destruction of infrastructure and even the physical injuries suffered by its victims. It has taken an overwhelming toll on the mental health of people in an area already suffering due to ongoing civil conflict,” said Marti Speranza Wong, President, Community Engagement at RTW Charitable Foundation. “We chose to partner with the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation for two key reasons: they have an established local presence already responding to the crisis and they have an evidence-based model that’s been piloted in the region and may prove to be scalable across other affected communities.”
The program, based on the “Common Elements Treatment Approach” which SAMS piloted in partnership with Johns Hopkins, is designed to respond to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, trauma, and stress-related disorders in low-income settings that rely on non-mental health providers. SAMS staff will train medical staff in Turkey and Syria to assess physical and psychosocial needs among children, adults, and fellow staff, and respond to patients with both immediate-term coping interventions and longer-term support as needed. SAMS has identified child protection as one of the greatest unmet needs in the wake of the earthquake and trained counselors will engage in safety planning and triage children’s needs observed in SAMS medical facilities and identified in communities.
“We’re grateful for partners like the RTW Charitable Foundation who are dedicated to supporting both the physical and mental health of underserved communities and those in urgent need,” said David Lillie, Executive Director, SAMS Foundation. “Their quick response and partnership will help tackle both acute and long-term mental health needs that this crisis has introduced and exacerbated.”
This Emergency Response Grant is the second such grant given by the RTW Charitable Foundation, following a $100,000 donation to Razom to support the organization’s emergency response in Ukraine. The grant funded the distribution of 1,400 tactical medical backpacks with about 38,000 bandages, tourniquets, and wound dressings.
About RTW Charitable Foundation
Founded in 2018 as the charitable foundation arm of RTW Investments, LP, RTW Charitable Foundation works to improve opportunities for all people to live healthier, longer lives, and was created at the intersection of scientific advancements and humanitarian efforts. The Foundation funds rare disease research, patient support, humanitarian programs, education and advocacy efforts to alleviate human suffering. To learn more, visit www.rtwcf.org. For grant applications please reach out to [email protected].
About Syrian American Medical Society Foundation
SAMS is a global medical relief organization that is working on the frontlines of crisis relief in Syria and beyond to save lives and alleviate suffering. SAMS proudly provides dignified medical care to every patient in need. To learn more, visit https://www.sams-usa.net.
RTW Charitable Foundation
Josh Baldwin [email protected]
Syrian American Medical Society Foundation
Dana Townsend [email protected]