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L’Aquila Earthquake Assistance

September 24-25 2010

On April 6, 2009 a massive earthquake devastated and destroyed the beautiful medieval town of L’Aquila and its local environment in the Abruzzo region of Central Italy. Over 300 people died, thousands were injured and more than 60,000 residents left homeless. The Basilica of Saint Bernadino of Siena was destroyed. The whole dome of the 18th century church of Anime Sante in Piazza Duomo fell down. Unfortunately, almost all of the surgeries of the more than 100 general practitioners (GPs) serving area were also destroyed.

HPRT through the generous support of the U.S. Embassy, Rome, Caritas, and the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), launched a major effort through its Harvard-Italian team to (1.) review the existing scientific literature on disasters and mental health in modern Italy; (2.) develop an Italian version toolkit for the detection and treatment of patients severely affected by the disaster in primary health care; (3.) establish a supervision linkage between the local medical school and Italian General Practitioners (GPs); (4.) train the GPs in areas (1.) to (3.).

The toolkits and training of the local L’Aquila GPs by the Harvard –Italian Team and the L’Aquila Medical School Department of Psychiatry occurred on September 24th and 25th, 2010

This work called the “Abruzzo Model” for trauma and recover is the first attempt at training GPs in Italy post-disaster using a science and culture-based toolkit. This effort has been recognized by members of the Italian Parliament as a major contribution to disaster relief policy in Italy and stands ready to be applied in new crisis.

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