Fears of a Looming Health Crisis In Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria
More than two weeks since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, Project HOPE continues to respond to urgent health needs as fears grow over a spike in outbreaks.
More than two weeks since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, Project HOPE continues to respond to urgent health needs as fears of a deepening health crisis grow. HOPE medical volunteers are going door-to-door to visit residents who are still unable to access care and the HOPE team is also setting up mobile clinics in towns in need of health services and support.
“The sense of desperation is growing each day,” said Chris Skopec, HOPE’s executive vice president for global health and emergency response with Project HOPE.
Many areas of the island, particularly in the interior, remain in extreme need of aid ranging from drinking water and food to hygiene items and medical supplies. There are also significant disparities in electricity and clean water access across geographic zones.
“Our medical volunteers are treating a range of chronic illnesses, like diabetes, hypertension, skin rashes and there has been a significant outbreak of conjunctivitis,” said Skopec. “They’re also seeing increasing rates of gastrointestinal disease, most likely caused by people drinking river water as they’re not to access clean water.”
Health officials in the country are preparing for a spike in infections due to poor hygiene and water contamination which are causing gastrointestinal outbreaks, skin rashes and conjunctivitis. Flu outbreaks are another major concern since there is still a lack of flu vaccines ahead of what is expected to be a very significant flu season. The outbreak risk of mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika and Chikayunga is also high due to standing bodies of lingering floodwater that are breeding grounds for the insect.
“An epidemic can spread fast in these kinds of conditions,” Skopec said.
Thanks to your support there is HOPE. In the past two weeks, Project HOPE has
- Supported a 20 person emergency response team in Puerto Rico, including volunteer RNs, nurse practitioners and doctors
- Continued to provide health services and conduct health and hygiene awareness in the high-need municipality of Loíza
- Treated prevalent ailments include hypertension, diabetes, conjunctivitis and skin rashes
- Distributed a 40 foot container of desperately needed supplies to the municipality of Vega Baja
- Taken the lead in logistics operations at the University Pediatric Hospital, which will act as a hub for the distribution of medicines and supplies for facilities across the island
Project HOPE’s support of health care, health awareness outreach and delivery of supplies and medicines in Puerto Rico will continue in the coming weeks and months.