Clean water, antibiotics biggest needs for quake-hit Haiti

Clean water and antibiotics are among the biggest needs for quake-hit Haiti, health experts say.

Clean water, antibiotics biggest needs for quake-hit Haiti

Clean water and antibiotics are among the biggest needs for Haiti, where the capital was devastated by a huge quake that killed up to 100,000 people, health experts say.

Rescuers are struggling to even get to Port-au-Prince, where inestimable numbers of victims remain buried under rubble and thousands are sleeping out in the open.

Josh Ruxin, a Columbia University public health expert living and working in Rwanda, said Haiti was already struggling with AIDS, tuberculosis, childhood diseases and malnutrition.

Some of the health threats rescuers and doctors will battle over the coming weeks and days:

* Finding survivors trapped beneath rubble and treatment for people with major injuries.

* Diarrheal disease, caused by dirty water. Diarrhea can be treated with clean water reinforced with salt and sugar but this will not be available, so many children and elderly patients can die quickly.

* Infections of wounds caused by the quake. Antibiotics and clean bandages can help but there is no way to distribute them and hospitals and pharmacies have been destroyed.

* Outbreaks of infections such as cholera, caused not by dead bodies but by contamination of the limited water supply.

* The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates around 3 million were injured or are homeless. The Pan American Health Organization cites "a variety of sources" as estimating 50,000 to 100,000 people are dead.

* Ruxin and PAHO said long-term, hospitals should be built to withstand disasters, with robust funding to keep them operating.

* Proper burials. PAHO's Dr. Jon Andrus said dead bodies do not pose a health threat and proper burial can help ease the mental anguish that is certain to affect survivors.

Reuters
Last Mod: 16 Ocak 2010, 12:08
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