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NZ Red Cross medical staff depart for Pakistan

14 November 2005

Largest ever team of NZ Red Cross medical staff depart for Pakistan

A chance spotting of an advert in his local newspaper was all the impetus needed for Wanganui man Tom Jones to join one of the largest medical relief teams New Zealand Red Cross has ever assembled.

An experienced nurse who previously worked for Good Health Wanganui, Tom is one of 11 delegates, jointly funded by New Zealand Red Cross and government aid agency NZAID, headed to Pakistan to assist in the international relief effort for victims of the 8 October earthquake. This is his first mission for the Red Cross.

Tom, along with three other delegates – Helen Cater, Auckland, Gerard Robertson, Wellington and Jayn Chapman, Christchurch – depart from Auckland on Tuesday 15 November. The group of 11 delegates, which are leaving for Pakistan in stages, range from experienced delegates to first timers.

New Zealand Red Cross Operations manager Andrew McKie said a large team had been requested by the International Federation of Red Cross which is coordinating the relief effort, and reflected the size and scale of the disaster.

Approximately 86,000 people were killed and 100,000 injured in the earthquake. Millions have been left homeless by the disaster.

“New Zealand delegates are highly sought after. Thanks to the generosity of New Zealanders and the government we are able to send a large team over of very skilled medical and logistical staff.”

However, Mr McKie said the big challenge now facing the people affected by the earthquake was the onset of winter. There was the likelihood that many more could die from lack of adequate shelter.

“The International Federation of Red Cross anticipate assisting as many as 81,000 families (or nearly 600,000 people) during the next six months. Logistically, that is a huge undertaking and one that will be extremely costly.

“The New Zealand Red Cross appeal for Pakistan has collected close to $300,000. That is an excellent start, but I would encourage people to consider donating more to ensure that future loss of life is avoided,” he said.

New Zealanders can make donations to the Pakistan/South Asia earthquake appeal by calling 0900 33 200 or on-line at www.redcross.org.

The four delegates departing on Tuesday join three others who left last week and nurse Marion Picken who arrived in Pakistan a week after the earthquake.

The remaining members of the team will depart in early December. The majority of the group will be stationed together at a Red Cross multinational hospital in Abbottabad. It is unusual for such a large team of New Zealand delegates to be stationed together. The individual missions range in duration from six weeks to six months.

ENDS


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