The images from earthquake-torn Japan are shocking, and the news coming out of the small island nation grows worse every day. Thousands of people are dead or missing. Tens of thousands are without adequate food, water and electricity, and more than half a million have been evacuated from areas that were severely damaged by either the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck on March 11 or the tsunami that followed.
Damaged nuclear power plants and the threat of radiation exposure prompted additional evacuations the week of March 14.
"The situation is becoming increasingly grim," said Craig Doane, executive director of the AAFP Foundation(www.aafpfoundation.org). "Your foundation is prepared to help. When members donate to the AAFP Foundation, they are assured that their money goes to those in need. As was the case with Haiti, we have formal agreements with International Medical Corps(www.internationalmedicalcorps.org) and Heart to Heart International(hearttoheart.org), both of which are proven partners in providing direct aid in disaster areas."
After an earthquake devastated Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, members donated $74,000 through the AAFP Foundation to aid recovery efforts, and 125 members traveled to Haiti to help as emergency response volunteers.
Now, Academy members can donate to the foundation to help the people of Japan, and those funds will be distributed to the International Medical Corps, or IMC, and Heart to Heart International.
"In the spirit of family medicine, I encourage you to reach out, donate or help in any way you can," said AAFP Foundation President Richard Roberts, M.D., J.D., of Madison, Wis., in a March 15 e-mail to Academy members. "You can help alleviate the suffering and bring healing compassion to the earthquake and tsunami victims."
The IMC said March 14 that it already had an emergency response team in Japan. Family physician Neil Joyce, M.D., of San Diego, said in a multimedia report(www.internationalmedicalcorps.org) on the IMC website that the organization aims to support Japan as it responds to the recent disasters.
"Systems that have been in place to protect people -- health care systems and public works systems -- these aren't going to be working," Joyce said. "Local systems are going to be overwhelmed because those doctors and nurses, they don't have homes. Their homes washed away. There are a lot of consequences when a major disaster strikes like that."
Members interested in volunteering in Japan may contact Alex Ivanov, the AAFP's international activities manager, by e-mail or by calling (800) 274-2237, Ext. 4510.