Earthquake Aftermath - Diseases To Cope With
In the article about the importance of earthquake readiness, the first point I put forward was that the earthquake is just the beginning of an ordeal. While there are a multitude of problems to deal with in its aftermath even in the developed world (like ensuring your property and documents are protected, your insurance papers are in place to claim damages,etc.), in the other parts of the world, there are many more major risks awaiting you. One of the major concerns that has hit earthquake affected areas in recent times has been the outbreak of epidemics. In many cases, the death caused by the outbreak of deadly epidemics in the aftermath of an earthquake has claimed more lives than the quake itself.
For example, in the aftermath of the Rwanda earthquake in 1994, over 45000 people; mostly children, died of cholera in inside three weeks. More recently, during the 2010 Haiti earthquake the death rate due to Cholera was at one point close to 50 per day. Most of these epidemics that spread in the weeks following an earthquake are due to the contamination of water. Like in the cases of the earthquakes in Rwanda and Haiti, water-borne diseases like cholera and dysentery are most common and are among epidemics to guard against.
According to relief center management cells set up by the United Nations at disaster zones, two things that should be set up immediately following an earthquake are water and sanitation. People in disaster zones have high dehydration and so may not keep their usual vigil while consuming water from contaminated sources. Again, latrines are among areas that serve as the most common reasons that cause the spread of illnesses. Ultimately, the objective of UN aid centers at earthquake hit zones is to establish clean water and sanitation.
During emergencies as the earthquake, we often have a lot of people cramped up in small relief centers set up by the UN and other local service organizations. While these do help in getting relief and medicines to the affected people at a quicker pace, the set up is also a lucrative base for the spread of communicable diseases like Influenza, Diptheria, Measles and Tuberculosis. To tackle this, relief centers are often stocked up with vaccinations to prevent the outbreak of an epidemic. While focus on vaccination has helped prevent an epidemic outbreak in recent times, fact also remains that children who do not have sufficient immunity to fight the early stages of these diseases often fall victim to such illnesses. The only way to prevent this from happening to our kith and kin is to ensure they are vaccinated against these illnesses well in advance. That is however only wishful thinking in most parts of the developing world and is something that requires immediate focus.