Houston doctors return from Turkey, Syria after helping with devastating earthquake relief

HOUSTON – Two doctors from the Houston area recently traveled to Turkey and Syria with a team of U.S. physicians to provide mental health training and support to earthquake and trauma victims.

The duo says it was a humanitarian mission and an experience unlike many others.

Once on the ground, this team saw the devastation firsthand.

On Feb. 6, massive earthquakes claimed nearly 50,000 lives in what Turkey’s Disaster Management Agency has called the worst national disaster in a century.

Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Baylor College of Medicine Dr. Sophia Banu, along with medical resident Dr. Dania Albaba, say that the humanitarian non-government organization Med Global, which provides emergency response and health programs in disaster regions and low-income countries, organized the trip.

“It was really important for mental health providers to be there. Not to treat people as much as training the workers. Frontline workers, providing support for them. Community health workers, mental health workers to do training. So we basically focused on training the trainers so that when we leave they can train other people,” Dr. Banu said.

The doctors say they were working in Turkey and Syria for about two weeks.

When asked if they would go back, the two both said without a doubt.

About the Authors:

Reporter, proud Houstonian, U of H alumni, and lover of all the hometown sport teams.

Moriah Ballard joined the KPRC 2 digital team in the fall of 2021. Prior to becoming a digital content producer in Southeast Texas and a Houstonian, Moriah was an award-winning radio host in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio and previously worked as a producer/content creator in Cleveland. Her faith, family, and community are her top passions.