Hurricane Dorian devastates healthcare infrastructure

By Fabian Sutch-Daggett - World Healthcare Journal

The aftermath of Hurricane Dorian poses an enormous risk to public health, and has caused major damage to healthcare infrastructure.

After carving a path of destruction through the Bahamas, the coast of Florida and the Carolinas, and assaulting the shores with sustained winds of up to 185mph, Hurricane Dorian is tied with the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 as the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the Atlantic measured by winds. Emergency status has been declared along the southern east coast in Carolina and Florida, and even states as northerly as New York are urging citizens to stay away from the water.

The official current death toll in the Bahamas currently stands at 30. However, this figure is expected to rise rapidly, as government officials have stated that hundreds and possibly thousands of Bahamians are still missing in the Abacos and Grand Bahama.

“We expect the number to climb. I certainly believe based on our findings in the field, that number will rise dramatically,” says Dr. Duane Sands, Minister of Health for the Bahamas.

But following the immediate damage caused by the hurricane itself, the lasting damage to infrastructure has created a huge humanitarian crisis. U.N. officials report that more than 60,000 people on Grand Bahama and Abaco need emergency supplies and food, and nearly 62,000 need immediate access to clean water.

And in this time of desperate need, hospitals and care infrastructure have been so badly damaged that they are reportedly “unusable”. During the hurricane itself, the main hospital on Grand Bahama, Rand Memorial Hospital, was so severely water-damaged that staff, clinicians, and patients had to be evacuated during the storm. Images have emerged depicting the level of flooding and destruction in clinic rooms and wards.

On Great Abaco, the health minister has stated that the main health clinic in Marsh Harbour is intact and sheltering 400 people. However, it is in great need of food, water, medicine and surgical supplies. He also stated that crews are also attempting to airlift from Abaco between five and seven end-stage kidney failure patients who haven't received dialysis since Friday.

As a result of this severe flooding which is endemic across the islands, the potential for waterborne disease has skyrocketed. With potential medical waste contamination from the flooded hospital, sewage leakage and no running water as a result of damaged pipes, the island desperately needs access to clean water, help, and aid.

To support the relief effort currently ongoing in the Bahamas, there are many organisations currently helping out in whatever way that they can. Here are some ways to donate:

#menu">Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund 

Waterkeeper Alliance

Grand Bahama disaster relief fund

Salvation Army

Red Cross

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