Following a powerful, 7.8 magnitude earthquake
that hit the province of Esmeraldas, on the coast of Ecuador on April 17, the Red Cross responded to support the needs of those affected by deploying a health Regional Response Unit (RRU)
jointly with the Colombian Red Cross.
The RRU was deployed to reinforce health centres and community outreach activities as well as to operate satellite health posts and mobile clinics in various locations across Ecuador which were affected by the earthquake. Services provided by the unit include basic emergency obstetric care and transfer for complications; reproductive health services for men and women; outpatient care for adults and children with special attention to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and epilepsy; and community based surveillance through mobile clinics.
Since the beginning of the operation, more than 21,550 patients have been treated. The RRU operated in coordination with the Ecuadorian Red Cross and the Ministry of Health, with support from Red Cross aid workers coming from Canada,
Colombia, Mexico and the Philippines.
On June 28, the Canadian Red Cross officially handed over the RRU and its equipment to the Ecuadorian Red Cross Society. The Ecuadorian Red Cross will continue to run the RRU (which they will now refer to as the Emergency Medical Unit) in Pedernales for the coming months, working alongside the public health authorities.
“Our country has several threats that are typical of the region including volcanic eruptions, landslides, flooded rivers and earthquakes. There will be a need to re-activate the Emergency Medical Unit (EMU) to provide necessary assistance when emergency response exceeds the local capacity. Properly trained personnel of the EMU will serve the community with an area of triage, emergency room, observation and additional ambulances. Ecuadorian Red Cross will be able to respond to any type of mass event, emergency or disaster that may arise fulfilling our role as an auxiliary to government.” -
Dr. Juan Cueva Ortega, National President of the Ecuadorian Red Cross
Thanks to Global Affairs Canada, this handover ensures that the community can build its capacity to respond to future disasters, as well as use the unit for future operations in the event of future disasters. The Canadian Red Cross will continue to support the Ecuadorian Red Cross Society to provide technical assistance through the provision of personnel and training.