Friday, November 15, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan and disease outbreak

For the past few weeks, I’ve blogged mostly about disease outbreaks and pandemics.  This week we are going to turn our intention to disease outbreaks in crisis times like natural disasters such as the recent typhoon in the Philippines.  The reason I chose to talk about this topic is because this seems to be a social problem, because natural disasters affect a large number of people. For example, the typhoon Haiyan affected 4.2 million people and many of these people are at risk for disease due to poor sanitary conditions and standing water and lack of food.  The aftereffect could cause more deaths not directly caused by the natural disaster.
                The biggest concern with natural disasters are what comes after the disaster occurs, and one of the most certain things are there will be more deaths. The deaths can be caused by infection due to lack of proper health care available during the crisis.  Certain organizations are stepping in to make sure that infection rates stay low such as the Red Cross and Doctors without borders by giving vaccinations for tetanus, which can potentially cause more deaths.  The WHO is also doing their part by helping the Philippines Department of Health by backing their early warning alert and helping their network quickly respond to disease outbreaks and other health threats related to the disaster.
            Organizations like USAID and the U.S. Marines have distributed aid to those affected by the Typhoon. The ability for the people of the Philippines to get help so quickly is amazing, but it does not always happen this way. The social problems that lie within natural disaster zones are social inequalities in countries because people in natural disaster zone did not have good healthcare before and they lack the adequate prevention that is why people are so much more vulnerable in the aftermath.  However according to the article they did have an existing health infrastructure, "That means you do have an educated medical staff with experience there, but we are learning many are missing or dead, so we, like a lot of other groups that are responding, will try and reinforce and help what is there." The problem with natural disasters is that we can lose many people during them and adequate help is hard to find.  The social problem created is therefore the aftermath and the problems created such as displacement of individuals, trauma from so much death, food shortages, sanitation and infections. The prime example of social inequality and natural disasters lies within examples like hurricane Katrina; people who are at cumulative disadvantage are hit the hardest.

Emily Vestrat

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