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Help for Haiti: CDC’s Role

[Ed. Note: I just wanted to follow up on my recent post on Haiti relief, Small Change Can Make a Big Difference in Haiti, and bring attention to some of the great work that CDC is doing in Haiti right now. Below is some info that I received from them and thought was worth sharing. It’s important that we continue to raise awareness and do what we can in light of this crisis.]

As CDC continues its public health mission in Haiti, we take a look at its role, the priorities of the mission and the public health dangers through an interview with CDC’s incident manager for Haiti, Scott Dowell, M.P.H., M.D. (CAPT, USPHS), medical officer with the Global Disease Detection and Emergency Response Branch, Office of Global Health.

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What is CDC’s role in the Haiti relief effort?
CDC in Atlanta is gearing up to become a fairly large part of the Haiti relief effort in the upcoming weeks and months. CDC’s public health role was small and back-seat in the initial three or four days of search and recovery after the earthquake, but has become much more prominent as attention turned toward potential public health disasters that are looming in the weeks and months ahead. Our role is to help prevent tropical diseases, airborne and waterborne, from spreading through the population.

The key point is that this earthquake struck what was the most precarious public health system in the entire hemisphere. So even before the earthquake hit, Haiti had the lowest rate of immunization of infants, had the highest rate of mortality during childbirth, and had other serious public health problems. When you add the earthquake disaster to that, you have the potential for outbreaks of disease and other public health problems in the coming weeks. So one of the first priorities that we’re focusing on is public health information because it’s the quality of that information that’s going to guide the response and sort of avert these more predictable mortality risks.

Read Full Q&A

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