Earthquakes Have Largest Impact On Health Than Other Natural Disasters
November 4, 2011

Earthquakes Have Largest Impact On Health Than Other Natural Disasters

Researchers say that earthquakes have a bigger impact on health than other natural disasters like floods and hurricanes.

The researchers said earthquakes have caused over 780,000 deaths in the past decade.  They also said that for every person killed in an earthquake, three others are injured.

There are over a million earthquakes around the world each year, and many of the world's major cities are on fault lines.

The team said that depression can be the most common problem after earthquakes and it can affect up to 17 percent of the population.

For instance, after the 1999 Turkey earthquake, 17 percent of the population had suicidal thoughts.

Dr Susan Bartel of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in Boston and colleagues wrote in the Lancet on Thursday that children are often in higher risk of injury and death during earthquakes than adults.

During the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, 53 percent of patients were younger than 20 years old and 25 percent were under five.

"Because earthquakes frequently affect populous urban areas with poor structural standards, they often result in high death rates and mass casualties with many traumatic injuries," Bartel wrote in the journal.

Other ways earthquakes affect health is through heart attacks.  This condition rose 35 percent after the week of the 1994 Northridge earthquake. 

The authors said that earthquakes also wreck roads, hospitals and other infrastructure, derailing emergency services and leave "a large, unmet need for complex surgical and medical care."


Image Caption: A Haitian boy receives treatment at a MINUSTAH logistics base. Credit: Logan Abassi / The United Nations United Nations Development Programme (CC BY 2.0)


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