The most powerful earthquake in Japan

In the aftermath of Japan’s devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake and terrifying tsunami, people everywhere are wondering how they can support the numerous relief efforts under way. Many international relief groups are working to relieve suffering in the increasingly dire situation.

The Japanese government has so far confirmed that more than 3,500 people have died and more than 17,000 remain missing. These numbers are likely to rise once emergency service teams are able to reach all of the affected disaster areas. Nearly 530,000 Japanese have been evacuated from their homes so far, and shortages of food, water, and medical supplies are widespread.

Here’s an important way you can contribute to relief efforts: Donate to AmeriCares, a non-profit relief organization that saves lives and restores health in response to natural disasters, conflict, and chronic poverty. Everyday Health is partnering with AmeriCares to support its efforts on the front lines in Japan. For more than 25 years, AmeriCares has been delivering humanitarian aid, medical supplies, medicines, and other relief directly to disaster areas. One of those disasters AmeriCares responded to was the 1995 Kobe earthquake that struck Japan, leaving massive destruction and more than 300,000 homeless.

Related: Seven Questions About the Japan Radiation Scare

How AmeriCares Is Helping Japan

AmeriCares is coordinating closely with the Japanese government and local hospitals and relief workers to help ensure that hospitals have the resources they need to treat the injured patients and to provide for the needs of displaced families who lost their homes and are in shelters. Relief workers on the ground in Tokyo and Sendai are working with shelters and hospitals to determine the medications and medical supplies needed to relieve shortages. Such supplies are crucial and potentially lifesaving. Many survivors have ongoing health needs — from pregnancy to diabetes — that require regular medical attention and treatment. Twenty percent of the Japanese population is elderly; many have chronic conditions that require daily medications, says Ella Gudwin, AmeriCare’s Vice President Emergency Response and Strategic Program Development.