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coffeenap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-05-05 10:19 PM
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Pan American Heath Organization says bodies are NOT going
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to cause widespread disease so it is not necessary to quickly dispose of them without consideration for "ethical, cultural, and human rights concerns."

Katrina Raises Health Concerns
PAHO Director Offers Help to U.S. Health Secretary Mike Leavitt
Washington, D.C., Sept. 1, 2005 (PAHO)Public health experts are evaluating the health impact of hurricane Katrina and its aftermath among survivors in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

The director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Mirta Roses, today conveyed her condolences for the loss of human life to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt and offered PAHO's experience and assistance in dealing with the disaster's aftermath.

"I would like to place at your disposal the staff of PAHO's Area on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief, and indeed our entire public health staff, to provide any cooperation you might require to help restore health services in the wake of this disaster," she wrote.

On top of the physical devastation brought by this unprecedented U.S. natural disaster, there is growing concern about the health of thousands of survivors.

The magnitude of potential health problems that can result from widespread flooding in extensive areas with high population density has been documented by disaster experts at PAHO and other national and international agencies. PAHO has a program dedicated to protecting and assisting populations affected by natural disasters, such as those along the U.S. Gulf Coast now suffering the effects of Katrina.

One of the more tragic aspects of Katrina is the growing number of casualties. Survivors and news reports tell of bodies floating in the floodwaters of New Orleans and in other affected areas.

However, contrary to some media reports, the bodies of natural disaster victims do not themselves pose a risk of epidemics.

An article in the current issue of the Pan American Journal of Public Health debunks the common misconception that cadavers in disaster zones constitute a health risk. In the article, Claude de Ville de Goyet, former head of PAHO's disaster program, and Oliver Morgan, of the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, note that for many years, fear of disease outbreaks has led disaster-affected communities, local authorities, and governments to rapidly dispose of bodies without identifying them.
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