Hurricanes and child health: lessons from Cuba
Hurricanes and child health: lessons from Cuba. Deybis Sánchez Miranda, Imti Choonara. Arch Dis Child. 2011 April 1; 96(4): 328?329.
Published online 2010 September 22. doi: 10.1136/adc.2009.178145
In the summer of 2008, over a period of 3 weeks, two category 4 hurricanes (Gustav and Ike) caused over 200 deaths in the Caribbean and the USA. The two hurricanes were at their greatest intensity (category 4) in Cuba and caused widespread destruction to buildings, livestock and crops. Hurricane Ike alone damaged over 300 000 homes in Cuba.
Extensive damage to crops has been reported, and the economic cost to Cuba has been estimated as US$3?4 billion.
The two hurricanes were of far lower intensity (categories 1 and 2) when they passed through Haiti and the USA.
Despite the fact that Cuba experienced the hurricanes at their greatest intensity, there were only seven deaths throughout Cuba. In contrast, there were over 100 deaths in Haiti and over 30 in the USA. Over the last 50 years, Cuba has managed to reduce significantly the number of deaths following hurricanes.
Hurricane Flora in 1963 resulted in the deaths of over 1200 people in Cuba. Since then, Cuba has introduced early warning systems alongside evacuation. Hurricane Ike passed directly through the Province of Camagüey, and the steps taken to protect the health of children and adults are important for other countries