Updated: Apr 12
WPA offers support to those affected by the devastating situation in Turkey and Syria and asks WPA member societies and components for their support and attention for relief work
On the 6th of February 2023, an earthquake struck southern and central Turkey, and northern and western Syria. At the epicentre (Kahramanmaraş), the quake measured 7.7 on the Richter scale. Aftershocks were felt throughout the day, including two further earthquakes of 6.5 and 7.5 magnitude. Ten provinces (almost 13.500.000 citizens live) were affected, with over 29,000 people having lost their lives, and a further 80,000 other injured. These numbers are expected to rise as search and rescue teams continue their work in the affected regions. People have been left without shelter in freezing winter conditions and over 149,000 citizens have had to be evacuated so far.
“We have all been deeply saddened to see the news about the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and our thoughts are with all our members whose families and friends are impacted by this disaster.” (Prof. Afzal Javed, President of the WPA)
There is a long tail effect to an emergency like this, both for those injured by the earthquake, but also for chronic disease management. People will die without access to medications and the risk of cholera or other diseases is high owing to the lack of clean running water. This is without mentioning the significant impact the disaster will have on the mental health, with many individuals experiencing trauma and psychological distress for a long time after the incident. The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) has recognised the magnitude of the disaster and will be working closely with local mental health organisations in Turkey and Syria to ensure that those in need of support receive the necessary assistance.
The WPA is calling on all mental health professionals to support the people of Turkey and Syria by offering their expertise and skills to help those affected by the disaster. Mental health support is a critical component of the recovery process, and the WPA is committed to ensuring that the affected people receive the support they need to overcome this traumatic event.
WPA has extensive resources available as part a disaster response programme that is specifically designed to support communities affected by natural disasters and other traumatic events. These resources were delivered in response to other international disasters and are freely available on our website. These include:
*Picture credit: VOA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons