Increasing Emphasis on Humanitarian Assistance

AuthorBonnie Stabile,Naoru Koizumi,Thomas Zimmerman,Jeremy Mayer,Edward Septimus,Arnauld Nicogossian,Charles R. Doarn,Otmar Kloiber
Published date01 December 2015
Date01 December 2015
Increasing Emphasis on Humanitarian Assistance
Arnauld Nicogossian, Bonnie Stabile, Otmar Kloiber, Thomas Zimmerman,
Edward Septimus, Naoru Koizumi, Jeremy Mayer, and Charles R. Doarn
As 2015 comes to a close, we express our concern for the many resource
limited, global challenges facing medical and health professionals worldwide.
War, disasters, disease, terrorism, and other insecurities continue to threaten the
well-being of many communities around the world. This year marks the 10th
anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating natural disasters of
the twenty-f‌irst century. While estimates vary, over 1,800 people lost their lives
and 400,000 were forced to leave their homes, some permanently. In the city of
New Orleans, hurricane damage to the levees and resulting f‌loods destroyed
entire communities. With suffering, death, and damages of more than $100
billion, this catastrophe triggered a serious reconsideration of the U.S. govern-
ment’s and communities’ ability to prepare for and handle environmental risks,
anticipate threats, and respond to natural and human-made hazards. A decade
later, recovery still continues. Massive infusion of resources has helped with
recovery efforts, with major infrastructure and services rebuilt, in some cases to
even better standards than pre-Katrina, yet many affected regions still struggle
and remain undeveloped. Katrina demonstrated that social disparities contribute
signif‌icantly in costs to health and life, and poor post-disaster resilience. This
slow but steady recovery in a U.S. region during peacetime can be contrasted
with other countries suffering from protracted violence.
Iraq, still suffering from armed conf‌lict, has over three million internally
displaced people (IDP). The four years of violence and war in Syria have
produced almost 11 million IDP and refugees, with some 259,000 living in Iraq.
Disparities in humanitarian aid are evident. The “less than 10 percent of IDPs,
and 40 percent of refugees who live in camps get much more attention and
organized assistance than the vast majority who live outside of camps” (Ferris &
Teff, 2015). Iraq, Middle Eastern countries, many African nations, and neighbor-
ing poor communities still suffer from lack of sustainable resources and rising
World Medical & Health Policy, Vol. 7, No. 4, 2015
1948-4682 #2015 Policy Studies Organization
Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc., 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA, and 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ.

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