Public Health In Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released an issue brief titled Public Health in Puerto Rico after Hurrican Maria. The brief draws on federal and Puerto Rican government statistics and official statements and media reports to provide a snapshot of public health challenges in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

Below is a brief summary of some of the public health issues highlighted in the brief:

  • Puerto Ricans are continuing to experience challenges with access to adequate and safe food, many still relying on meals provided by relief organizations
  • Access to potable water remains an issue for about 300.000 people; however, in the days following the hurricane this number was closer to 55% of the island. Boil water advisories remain in effect for cooking and drinking.
  • Healthcare infrastructure (e.g., hospitals, community health centers, dialysis centers) suffered extensive damage from the hurricane; although many healthcare facilities, including hospitals, have reopened and are functioning, many continue to run on generators which require continuous fuel supply.
  • Following the hurricane, and similar to other disasters, there are increased concerns about mental health issues and access to mental health services.

The on-going challenges discussed the brief highlight the critical role that public health has in helping communities rebuild and recover. For information and resources for local health departments on hurricane preparedness, response, and recovery, visit NACCHO’s Preparedness Brief.

For information on donations and volunteering in Puerto Rico, please see this blog post.

About Katie Dwyer

Katie Schemm Dwyer is a Director in NACCHO's Preparedness Division. Her work focuses on supporting local health departments strengthen public health preparedness systems through governance, coordination and liaison with federal preparedness organizations, policy, and program management.

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