Oct 7 2009
News outlets explored the health implications of natural disasters in Indonesia, the Philippines, Tonga, Samoa and India:
- Almost a week after Indonesia was struck by a "devastating earthquake," health workers sprayed the city of Padang with "disinfectant" in an effort to prevent disease outbreaks, Reuters reports (Ahmad/Creagh, 10/6).
International search and rescue crews have stopped actively searching for survivors because the possibility of finding anyone alive at this point is too remote, the New York Times reports. "Ade Edward, director of West Sumatra's center for disaster management, called an official end to the rescue efforts Tuesday, saying it was standard practice in any disaster after six days," the newspaper writes.
For those who did survive the earthquake, the U.S. has "opened a large field hospital …in the parking lot of Padang's main hospital, which, after parts of the hospital collapsed following the quake, remains unable to provide many basic medical services" (Gelling, 10/6). According to the Jakarta Post, the emergency hospital can handle about 400 patients per day, the U.S. embassy said (10/6). Although substantial aid has been sent to Indonesia, "the scale of the disaster, heavy rains and road damage means relief aid is trickling in to survivors," Reuters writes. "Peter Guest, deputy country director for the World Food Programme [WFP] in Indonesia, said WFP was distributing fortified biscuits in the area," the news service reports (10/6).
- Inquirer.net examines Typhoon Ondoy's effect on health facilities in the Philippines. "At least 15 major government hospitals and a health-related institution sustained damage estimated" at about $14 million, the publication reports (Pazzibugan, 10/6).
- ABC's Radio Australia interviews Wame Baralivala, a reproductive health adviser for the U.N. Population Fund in Fiji, about how the U.N. is responding to the needs of women in Samoa and Tonga after the recent tsunami.
- Indian authorities are dealing with major flooding that has killed about 250 people, Australia's ABC News reports. "In a dramatic and cruel turnaround, some of these areas had been enduring the worst drought in 40 years and now are experiencing the worst flood levels in more than a century so they have gone from one to another very, very quickly," ABC News writes (Sara, 10/6). According to the BBC, officials estimate that billions of dollars will be needed for relief and reconstruction efforts. "Health officials said measures were being taken to prevent the outbreak of water-borne diseases in the affected areas," the BBC writes (10/5).
This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.