Potential health crisis in the wake of deadly storm and flooding in Derna, Libya

Potential health crisis in the wake of deadly storm and flooding in Derna, Libya

September 14, 20231 min read

The number of fatalities and missing persons continue to mount after a storm caused massive flooding in the town of Derna, located in the northeast region of Libya.

While search and rescue will remain the most urgent priority in the near term, addressing acute health needs will be a major factor in the wake of this disaster, said Jennifer Horney, founder and director of the epidemiology program at the University of Delaware.

  • The collapse of two dams are likely to cause long-term water borne diseases of all types.
  • With little existing health infrastructure in the area, treating and managing health will be extremely difficult.
  • Safe food and water will be scarce.
  • There is a strong possibility of infectious disease outbreaks and the spread of communicable disease.

Other experts from UD's Disaster Research Center who can comment on the flooding in Libya:

  • Tricia Wachtendorf: Disaster relief and donations, and alignment post-disaster – i.e., making sure donations that aren't needed don't flood the supply chain. Wachtendorf can also discuss evacuation decision-making, volunteer efforts, disaster response and coordination.
  • Sarah DeYoung: Dealing with unsolicited infant formula donations, and infant and maternal health. Can also discuss pets in emergencies, infant feeding in disasters and decision-making in evacuation.
  • Jennifer Trivedi: Long-term recovery and challenges for people with disabilities during disaster.

Connect with:
  • Jennifer Horney
    Jennifer Horney Professor and Director, Epidemiology

    Jennifer Horney's research focuses on the health impacts of disasters and public health emergencies including climate change.

  • Tricia Wachtendorf
    Tricia Wachtendorf Director / Professor, Disaster Research Center / Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice

    Prof. Wachtendorf expertise lies in the social, organizational, and decision-making aspects of disasters.

  • Jennifer Trivedi
    Jennifer Trivedi Assistant Professor, Anthropology; Core Faculty Member, Disaster Research Center

    Prof. Trivedi's research explores disaster vulnerability, response, recovery, resilience and decision-making.

  • Sarah DeYoung
    Sarah DeYoung Associate Professor, Sociology & Criminal Justice

    Prof. DeYoung's expertise is in maternal and child health in crisis and disaster settings, with a focus on infant feeding in emergencies.

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