The news of the enormity of the earthquake that hit Haiti on 12 January has been rather muted up till now, maybe because of the difficulty in establishing proper communication channels. There is even a page on Facebook called Earthquake Haiti for people to look for the missing. But consider the following:
-estimates of deaths may reach 200,000.(the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami caused about the same number of deaths)
-a large number of foreigners are missing, including 1,415 Canadians.
-75% of the capital Port-au-Prince has been destroyed.
Added to the misery is the fact that only 2 hospitals are operational, the rest destroyed, including the 3 clinics run by Doctors Without Borders. This is on top of the fact that there’s no running water, no sanitation, no food, and no electricity.
While the immediate health problems are obvious to the 3 million Haitians that need urgent medical help, the real challenge will come in the weeks ahead when diarrhoea, lung infections and complications of chronic disease set in because of the poor sanitation, nutrition and inferior medical facilities.This is when international agencies like the WHO and Red Cross can lead by example, just like when they did it for the H1N1 pandemic. Perhaps they can do it with the same resolve,urgency and resource?
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