Haiti’s Natural Disasters and Their Effects
Six years ago, the devastating earthquake killed 200,000 residents of Haiti. Hurricane Matthew that hit the nation in 2016 again proved that the impoverished Caribbean country is ill-equipped to face powerful storms and other cataclysms, as well as adequately respond to them. Hurricane Matthew killed several hundred residents. The city’s nearby buildings leveled. Neighboring countries provided aid to Haiti’s south-western part including fishing villages and towns as they suffered the most. However, despite numerous efforts, the region remained cut off, and, therefore, aid agencies could reach it only by ships and helicopters. Swollen rivers, flying debris, and falling trees hampered the rescue situation. Despite the different nature of disasters and number of casualties, Haiti significantly suffered from natural cataclysms occurred in 2010 and 2016. The current paper seeks to examine earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Matthew, the resulting cholera outbreak, and highlight basic medical care as a fundamental human right.
Due to the vulnerability of Caribbean country Haiti, the officials could not prevent casualties and losses of natural disasters such as Hurricane Matthew and Haiti’s earthquake of 2010. The similarity is that both cataclysms battered Haiti destroying houses and displacing tens of thousands residents. The first disaster killed over one hundred people. The second one led to the deaths of over 160,000 residents and displaced 1.5 million individuals (Holpuch). The reactions and efforts of officials did not significantly vary. After the natural disasters, aid agencies expressed significant concerns about the emergence of cholera and Haiti’s overwhelming sanitation system. The government has learned from lessons of wasted aid and disorganized delivery, and, therefore, the authorities try to control the situation (Ahmed). However, the poor Caribbean country failed then, and it fails nowadays to completely recover from the 2010 earthquake and epidemic that followed.
Despite the unprecedented help of neighboring countries, Haiti’s political instability and wrangling hinders any attempts to rebuild cities from the cataclysm. Many buildings are currently in a weakened state, and many residents remain homeless. Hurricane Matthew has produced cholera outbreak, and the Caribbean nation is also suffering from food shortage. The USA and other countries mobilize their support for Haiti. The threat of cholera is significant, and it is mostly due to the lack of adequate measures, actions, healthcare provision, and necessary equipment. In addition to Hurricane’s effects, various diseases pose hazards for residents leading to their deaths. The United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal introduced cholera epidemic after the devastating earthquake in 2010. The ongoing epidemic seems to be more serious than officials think. If international community undertakes no adequate measures, the survivors of natural disaster will face another outbreak of the disease (Holpuch). By organizing campaigns, the survivors seek to gain the compensation from UN agents, who introduced the disease to the island nation. Poor sanitation conditions at the peacekeepers’ camps led to the contamination of the Haiti’s largest river with cholera. Since 2010, almost 10,000 Haiti residents have died from this severe illness (Watson, Hume, and Pequenino).The Caribbean nation’s officials tried to do their best in order to prevent an outbreak of the waterborne disease, but almost all actions undertaken by them did not bring the desired outcome.
In order to predict disasters and manage them in a proper manner in the case of their occurrence, local, national, and international organizations should coordinate their efforts and act jointly. Every party plays a distinct role, but highlights the importance of close cooperation for the community’s benefit. The availability of vital resources, propensity for disaster, and capacity to respond to natural cataclysms are important factors that vulnerable nations should take into account. In most cases, the interpersonal communication helps to raise the target population awareness on vaccination in the case of the epidemic. It is often argued that the response ability of individual states is not sufficient in the case of large-scale natural disaster. Therefore, the immediate outside assistance is crucial. The modern healthcare eats away the treasury and economy (Brill). It mostly occurs due to the fact that money spent on care and other services is inadequately distributed among the needy communities. International agencies and global community recognize the importance of such integral components as the disaster prevention, preparedness, and mitigation. Unfortunately, not all countries, including developing and vulnerable ones, pay significant attention to these issues. Most of the financial resources are spent on the military, infrastructure, and educational projects. Programs designed to mitigate and prepare to cataclysms in advance are not fully developed, and they occupy almost the last place in budget priorities.
Basic medical care should be regarded as a fundamental right due to the value it has. Despite the fact that human life is invaluable, not all officials and authorities make every effort to guarantee basic, high-quality care to every person, regardless of his/her status, background, race, and gender. However, the life and rights of many fellow human beings are significantly restricted. Most the individuals cannot exercise rights, services, and other benefits guaranteed by the Constitution. In reality, the way the authorities treat needy people differs from region to region. The febilitation, suffering, and death from illnesses characterize the country to varying extents. Farmer highlights such aspect as the hierarchy of suffering and mentions that it is almost impossible to immediately relieve every case. The affluent individuals rarely pay attention to the population’s impoverishment and its demands; however, their affluence directly affects that suffering. Therefore, the global community should minimize its activity and demonstrate a willingness to promptly act. The international leadership is crucial in order to change the situation for better. Despite surveillance, containment activities and campaigns of World Health Organization, its global actions are insufficient due to the lack of resources and extended units. Moreover, due to the emerging market economy, many developing countries refuse to pay high premiums for new medicines (Harris and Thomas). In this case, many agencies lack money for innovation. Therefore, the USA is forced to exert own leadership within the global community and develop a comprehensive and strategic plan to control the epidemic worldwide. The current health planning mechanisms have to be widely used by the authorities in the global struggle against natural disasters. However, recent summits and meetings have proposed the necessary action plan highlighting the importance of establishing a strong medical infrastructure that provides support to vulnerable populations and those individuals, who are at a great risk of contracting diseases and suffering from natural cataclysms.
The establishment of a specialized, trained, and adequately resourced team will help the global community to deal with epidemics in a proper manner. The development of promising treatments and drugs will not bring immediate effects; the desired outcome is likely to be reached in the course time. The issue of poverty has to be addressed as well. Taking into consideration previous tragic events, Haiti is likely to be struck again by similar natural disasters and diseases due to its vulnerability and poverty. However, the Caribbean country’s collaboration with other nations and international agencies may change the situation for better.
To conclude, Haiti failed to predict the earthquake, and it also fails to completely recover from the epidemic that followed it. The nation is still feeling the consequences of natural disasters. The living conditions and the socio-economic situation became even worse than before. Despite progress and development, Haiti still needs investment in disaster management to prepare to the natural cataclysm in advance. Recent Haiti’s natural disasters do not have a prominent place on today’s agenda, but they still attract the attention of dozens of leaders from various continents. Even joint efforts of different countries do not resolve or prevent cataclysms due to nature’s severity.