Acupuncturists Respond to Chile Earthquake

March 10, 2010 at 8:09 am Leave a comment

Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) has recently arrived in Chile to help with the aftermath of the the earthquake there just two weeks ago.

It’s hard to even take in after the earthquake in Haiti, but the damage in Chile is monumental, and life has changed dramatically. A neighbor of mine, whose family is in Chile, writes that there continue to be small quakes, and people are still in shock, and still looking for missing family members. Large parts of the country have been badly damaged, and roads and phone lines are out of commission, making travel and communication difficult. Large numbers of people are struggling with loss, displacement, and physical injury.

Some acupuncturists in the country have requested help from Acupuncturists Without Borders, and a small team just arrived yesterday to help out. Since there are a number of practicing acupuncturists in Chile, the team will focus on training them to provide services. Training will include group treatment protocols for physical and emotional trauma, as well as the logistics of setting up treatment sites in schools, hospitals and shelters, getting permission, partnering with other organizations and responders, and coordinating food, housing, training, and supervision for volunteer practitioners.

“Acupunctura para Chile”, a group of Chilean doctors who practice acupuncture, are also eager to partner with AWB and to receive training. The Chilean Red Cross has expressed interest in being trained to use press balls/ear seeds (this is a tiny ball bearing or seed on a tiny band-aid that is left on an ear point to gently stimulate it without inserting needles). And the Chilean Health Department has given permission for AWB to provide services in the country.

Acupuncture is an excellent intervention in a large-scale tragedy such as this one: Treatment can help tremendously with physical pain, promote healing, and help with stress, sleep, and the emotional aftermath of trauma. People can get these benefits without having to talk about the trauma, or even speak the same language as their practitioner. And the group-style treatment is highly portable, low-tech, and low-cost, and also allows people the comfort and safety of getting treated with their friends and family. In New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina, many people commented that it was the most helpful intervention they had received; doctors, firefighters, and National Guard members attested to the positive impact on the communities that received treatment. More recently, in Haiti, AWB’s volunteers have been extremely helpful to injured patients as well as to doctors and other volunteers dealing with the stresses of crisis intervention.

Once again, I am really glad to see acupuncturists offering what we can to those in trouble and need — and equally gratified to see it received so enthusiastically and well!

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Entry filed under: Acupuncture in the News, Uncategorized.

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