World Health & Population

World Health & Population 12(1) July 2010 : 18-22.doi:10.12927/whp.2010.21875

In the late afternoon of January 12, 2010, an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck the nation of Haiti. The epicentre of the earthquake was the coastal community of Léogane, approximately 25 kilometres south west of the densely populated capital city of Port-au-Prince (PAP). The devastation was enormous. An estimated 220,000 people died, over 300,000 were injured and more than 1.3 million were rendered homeless and are now living in temporary shelters in PAP (Pan American Health Organization 2010). Based on current predictions, this event led to the fifth-highest single-day loss of life due to an earthquake in modern history (United States Geological Society [USGS] 2010). Approximately 80% of schools in the PAP area were destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of structures including dwellings, government buildings and hospitals were damaged (USGS 2010). The future infrastructure and economic needs are colossal; however, the greatest tragedy is the number of casualties and the human toll on future generations of Haitians. Haiti's ranking on the United Nations Human Development Index1 was relatively low prior to January 2010, and the aftermath of the earthquake will further complicate long-term development in one of the poorest countries in the world (United Nations Development Program [UNDP] 2010).

 

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