Hurricane Harvey's Impact to Public Health

posted on Thursday, August 31, 2017

A recent article in the Huffington Post highlighted public health concerns as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Health Secretary Tom Price has declared a public health emergency in Texas.

The article highlighted the top public health concerns.

1. Inadequate access to medical care and prescriptions

2. Spread of infectious disease

3. Contaminated water

4. Risks of mold

5. Mosquito-borne infectious disease

6. Psychological wellbeing

Dr. Richard Johnson, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health, was quoted in the article. “One important way to mitigate some of the stress that comes with uncertainty during a disaster is with effective communication from those in charge. People get so upset when they don’t know what’s going on. It’s extraordinarily disorienting in our hyper-connected society.”

Jackson went on to say, “Everybody thinks communications is about telling people something, but you should be listening twice as much as you are talking. And oftentimes the communicators are not listening to the community’s concerns.”

Hopefully those in the Greater Houston area can find their voices and a listening ear to get the medical attention they need. If there is one thing that this natural disaster has shown, it’s the ongoing need for more sophisticated communication systems and plans to outreach to those in need.

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