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Record-Breaking Hurricane Season Took Major Toll on Public Health

For the foreseeable future, climate change will pose an even greater threat to safety, public health systems and our strained global health workforce than the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MEDIA STATEMENT, Bethesda, MD, USA (1 December 2020) — The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has officially ended; however, a wake of health and humanitarian crises requiring sustained emergency response remains. As the most active Atlantic hurricane season ever documented, forecasters are still monitoring a brewing low-pressure system that could become another named storm in coming days.

Rabih Torbay, President and Chief Executive Officer at Project HOPE, issued the following statement:

“As another record-breaking hurricane season ends, communities hard-hit by repeated emergencies need sustained health and humanitarian support. For the foreseeable future, climate change will pose an even greater threat to safety, public health systems and our strained global health workforce than the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The increase and magnitude of climate-related disasters create serious public health challenges. For example, right now, in the wake of storms Eta and Iota, the Government of Honduras has reported that over 2 million people have limited or no access to health services, including at least 500,000 in need of health care services. Locally, flooded streets and stagnant water are likely to result in disease outbreaks on top of COVID-19, such as Zika and dengue. On a global scale, changing conditions, like higher temperatures and stagnant water, are causing other vector-borne diseases like malaria, Lyme disease, West Nile virus and others to spread into new areas.”

“Climate change is at the root of many of our world’s greatest humanitarian crises. This includes wildfires, floods and droughts, which lead to food insecurity, famine and population displacement. Health emergencies like infectious diseases, lack of access to medical treatment and a global shortage in health workers exacerbate the situation. With an overburdened health system, we must recognize that to address the crises, we must address the root causes.”

More from Rabih:

Climate, Health Care and Social Justice Crises Are Inseparable, Yet Solvable

About Project HOPE

Project HOPE is a global health and humanitarian relief organization that is committed to placing power in the hands of local health care workers to save lives across the globe.

Project HOPE was the first global health organization to respond on the ground in Wuhan, China when the initial COVID-19 outbreak occurred and have since distributed over 11 million pieces of personal protective equipment, provided training for over 83,000 health workers in 8 languages, and reached more than 150 countries.

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