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Disease Compounds Disaster

The readings for this Thursday’s class explored the inequalities in health care and appalling lack of access to basic resources throughout the world. Millen’s introduction shows that despite the apparent improvement in statistics, the widening gap between developed and less developed countries has devastating consequences for billions of people around the world. It shows how statistics can be misleading, because while the world’s wealth has continued to increase, the disparity of wealth has created a global health crisis. And the most tragic part is that most of the diseases that kill people in developing countries are preventable. The lack of access to basic health care and adequate living conditions tends to be hidden underneath the faulty logic of improvement that lets developed countries “off the hook”. A good example of this is what happened in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010.

After the devastation of the earthquake, there was an outpouring of financial support from across the globe. However, much of the aid that has been pledged has yet to be distributed. And of the money that has made its way to Haiti, most of it has not improved the lives of the Haitian people in a noticeable way. In fact, a health crisis in the form of a cholera epidemic has thrust Haiti into a state of despair once again. The systemic poverty and lack of access to resources has been exacerbated by the earthquake, and the aid has not made a difference. As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere suffers from a cholera epidemic, Haiti’s plight has all but been forgotten by the rest of the world that sent in billions of dollars in donations when the earthquake struck. As the readings for this week illuminated, health care is one of the areas that is most problematic for poorer countries. The statistics seem to convey that the world health situation is improving. However, as the article here describes, the devastation of cholera that has compounded the already inconceivable tragedy of the earthquake is an example of how less developed countries bear the burden of the world’s health care problem. This relates to our topic of violence because the same displacement camps with awful living conditions that became the breeding ground for the cholera epidemic created the conditions for violence, specifically sexual violence against women. The camps lacked basic health care and sanitary conditions, but they also lacked security, which gave opportunities for violence such as rape. This article gives one such tragic story.


One response to “Disease Compounds Disaster

  1. hollykoch ⋅

    The title of your post is, I believe, an important point for understanding the cyclical nature of poverty. The poor are most likely to be greatly affected by disaster, because of things like poorly constructed buildings and homes. Then when society breaks down from the destruction, basic infrastructure is lacking, allowing for further trauma, such as disease. At this point, the struggle to rebuild is worsened exponentially by the affect disease has on the people. It’s hard to build a community back up when its people are ravaged by disease, especially such potent strains of cholera as seen in Haiti.

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