GENEVA–(ENEWSPF)–13 January 2010. The severe earthquake that struck Haiti and the Dominican Republic has inflicted large-scale damage, including on hospitals and health facilities, and large numbers of casualties are feared.
Immediate health priorities include:
- search and rescue of survivors trapped underneath rubble;
- treatment of people with major trauma injuries;
- preventing the infection of wounds;
- provision of clean water and sanitation; and
- ensuring breast-feeding is continued.
Control of communicable diseases, such as diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections, will be another major concern in coming days.
WHO is working with local authorities, United Nations agencies and humanitarian partners to respond to the emergency. More specifically, WHO is supporting the Haitian government to best coordinate international health assistance to the country. WHO is also collecting data on the health impact of the earthquake to disseminate to other humanitarian aid providers.
In addition, WHO is deploying a 12-member team of health and logistics experts. The WHO experts being sent include specialists in mass casualty management, coordination of emergency health response and the management of dead bodies.
UN buildings, including the WHO premises, have suffered damage in the magnitude 7.0 earthquake, which struck on 12 January. The main force of the earthquake was felt 17 kilometres south-west of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.
Haiti is a country that has already suffered from years of humanitarian crisis and natural disasters, including a series of hurricanes that battered the country in 2008.