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Katrina And International Health



Images of hurricane destruction along the Gulf Coast are rapidly being supplanted by ones of hungry, hurting victims of the disaster – many of whom are physically ill. Hospitals as far away as Denver and New York are filling with transferred patients suffering from dysentery, dehydration, and respiratory diseases.


What does this crisis teach us about international health? First, it is a solemn reminder that emergency preparation is critical. Comparison between the tsunami of December 2004, and Hurricane Katrina is inevitable. In both cases, grave inadequacies surfaced in early warning and in relief response. Katrina is also a reminder of how intimately health depends upon clean water, food, and shelter. Remove these essentials, and note how rapidly disease appears. Yet not so far from our own borders reside many millions of people who live a post-Katrina lifestyle every day of their lives! As we rush to assist the victims of the hurricane, we will do well to think of those in South America, Africa and Asia who subsist with so little.


Finally, Katrina is a heart-warming reminder of the good will and giving nature that characterizes people. From mobilized Army Engineers to grade school children making care packages, we are experiencing first hand that it is not only those who receive assistance who benefit. Giving also brings out the very best in the ones who give. To increase your own skills to respond to global health challenges, please take advantage of the INMED Self-Paced Courses.

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