Posted: March 8th, 2022
Discuss the cholera outbreak after the earthquake. What was the UN’s role in the cholera outbreak and what are the lasting effects of this outbreak to this day.
The Haiti earthquake in January of 2010 was one that left an immense number of casualties, injuries, and displaced people. Prior to the earthquake, it was said that only ten percent of the Haitian population had access to potable water, putting them at great risk and leaving them extremely vulnerable. Following the earthquake, there was an outbreak of Cholera. Cholera is a rare intestinal infection that can is transmitted through contaminated food and water. Due to the fact there was no sewage in Haiti, it was dumped into the river that many used for drinking water. Rumors started to go around that the UN was responsible for bringing the disease to Haiti from peacekeeping troops from Nepal. It was later found that the strain of Cholera was not a Latin American strain, but more closely related to a strain from South Asia and parts of Africa in 2007. This strain was known to cause more severe illness. There was a public outcry to the fact UN workers had most likely introduced the strain to Haiti, who had not seen Cholera in nearly a century (Cuadra, 2022). To this day, Haiti is still feeling the effects of the Cholera outbreak. Although it may not be as severe as when the original outbreak occurred, it is still prominent and affecting the entire country. People are now trying to teach Haitian civilians the proper techniques of boiling water to make it safe to drink. Furthermore, long-term reinforcement of public-sector health systems have set minimum services that can now be built upon in a time of crises. The public health workers can now quickly turn into educators, distributors of supplies, and first responders. Haiti although may still be experiencing the backlash of Cholera, has now been able to make a plan to mobilize health care professionals in a time of crisis (Walton and Ivers, 2011).
Cuadra, J. (2022). Week 9 Video Lecture: Haiti Earthquake. [Weekly Lecture Video]. Retrieved from Haiti Earthquake Video Lecture: (PAD4380.sp22) Disasters: From Shock to Recovery (fsu.edu)
Walton, D., Ivers L. (2011). Responding to Cholera in Post-Earthquake Haiti. N Engl J Med. 364(1), 3-5.
Analyze the vulnerability situation in Haiti before the earthquake using Week 2 Coppola’s vulnerability types: physical, environmental, social, and economic vulnerabilities. Link these pre-existing vulnerabilities with the consequences of the earthquake.
In the year 2010 Haiti was a nation facing many struggles. It was vulnerable to disaster on several fronts. Haiti was a poverty-stricken nation as compared to industrialized countries elsewhere. It was also described as having weak government institutions and poor environmental conditions (Cuadra Ph.D, 2022). Some notable vulnerabilities included deficient and unenforced building codes and a population who was under enlightened on their heightened vulnerability status. The nation suffered an earthquake in early 2010 rattling the buildings which were already poorly constructed. Furthermore, prior to the earthquake, only 10% of the population had access to potable water (Cuadra Ph.D, 2022). This number was dramatically decreased after the earthquake. Hundreds of thousands of people either died as a result of the earthquake or were made homeless. To make matters worse, Hurricane Tomas followed a few months later and decimated the already grief-stricken Haitians. Due to poor sanitary practices the people faced another disaster in the form of a Cholera epidemic. As a result of a social vulnerability in that most Haitians were uninformed on how to prevent the intestinal disease, coupled with the physical and environmental vulnerabilities of their infrastructure being destroyed and the economic vulnerability of not having enough money to purchase or build new infrastructure fast enough, Cholera spread quickly to thousands of patients (Walton, M.D., M.P.H. et al). Haiti, in 2010, was the perfect storm of a nation facing difficult circumstances compounded by sever vulnerability and under preparedness. It was almost exclusively dependent on external forces for recovery and is to this day not yet fully recovered. As compared to EM methods is other courses, this case study seemed to be top-down type response and recovery which was as studied, tends to not be a successful as bottom-up. Thanks.
Cuadra Ph.D, J. (2022). Haiti Earthquake Video Lecture. Tallahassee: https://canvas.fsu.edu/courses/188584/pages/haiti-earthquake-video-lecture?module_item_id=3572369.
Walton, M. M., & Ivers, M.D., M.P.H., L. C. (2011). Responding to Cholera in Post-Earthquake Haiti. The New England Journal of Medicine, 3-5.
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