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News Outlets Examines Health Impact Of Disasters In Indonesia, Samoa, Philippines

Several news outlets continued to cover the health impact of the recent spate of natural disasters around the globe:

  • In Indonesia, “[r]escue workers called off the search Monday for life under the rubble left by a massive earthquake, focusing instead on bringing aid to survivors,” the Agence France-Presse reports. “The United Nations has said at least 1,100 people were killed in the disaster, but estimates of the final toll range up to 5,000. The official toll stood at 650 dead and 672 missing, according to the health ministry,” the news service writes (Belford, 10/5).

In the area where the earthquake hit, “[s]atellite images showed continuing moderate to heavy rain,” which could result in landslides and “hamper delivery of desperately needed aid,” according to the Associated Press. The Meteorological and Geophysics Agency is predicting that remote areas of Indonesia “could see strong winds and storms for the next two days, worsening the plight for those made homeless and creating dangerous conditions on roads already blocked by mud and felled trees,” the AP reports (Talmadge/Firdaus, 10/5).

Foreign governments have been offering medicine, tents, and food, but “[d]octors trying to treat hundreds of injured survivors are running out of medicine, and damage to hospitals has left them without sufficient space to operate,” Bloomberg reports (10/3). The Christian Science Monitor reports that a “lack of road access” significantly slowed relief efforts, but that “supplies are starting to flow” (Montlake, 10/4). Though Indonesia’s markets “reopened over the weekend,” some areas affected by the quake “remain without electricity, with bonfires lighting street intersections at nights. Because water pumps cannot work without power, many areas also have no access to tap water, a situation that, doctors warn, could spark an outbreak of diseases,” the Wall Street Journal writes (Trofimov/Wright, 10/5).

  • Somoa’s head of the Ministry of Health, Palanitina Toelupe, said on Sunday that he was concerned about the spread of infectious disease in the aftermath of the tsunami, Xinhua reports. “Besides diarrhoea and gastroenteritis, she was worried about the potential for cases of typhoid and dengue fever to surge,” the news service writes. Toelupe said, “People are not coming forward to be treated … health professionals … are going out to see them and try to encourage them to come forward” (10/5).

In American Samoa, approximately 300 responders are on the ground, “including personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Health and Human Services, according to those agencies. The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy are continuing transport of supplies to the territory, including meals, water, blankets, tents and medical supplies,” CNN writes in a story examining the response in the Samoan Islands, where more than 165 people were killed (10/3). The New Zealand Herald also examines the possibility of diseases outbreaks. The article notes, “Many survivors were coming into hospital to be treated for wounds with skin infections, which could cause lethal blood poisoning” (Savage, 10/4).

  • In the Philippines, at least 16 people were killed and more than a dozen villages flooded Sunday after Typhoon Parma hit on Saturday, the Associated Press/Philstar.com reports. However, the capital of Manila, which recently suffered numerous casualties from Tropical Storm Ketsana, “escaped the worst of the storm,” according to the news service (10/4). On Friday, ahead of the typhoon, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo “placed the entire Philippine archipelago under a state of calamity,” Bernama reports. Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the declaration will allow local officials to use calamity funds and will help regulate prices because of “rampant overpricing” (10/2).
  • Reuters AlertNet examines how the disasters in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Samoa are affecting aid agencies. “The sudden onset of four big natural disasters in almost as many days has stretched international aid agencies to the limit as they scramble to assess the scale of the devastation in – and rally the funds to pay for an emergency response,” Reuters AlertNet writes. The articles looks at how agencies are working together to respond to the disasters and where they are finding emergency funding (Nguyen, 10/2).

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