Health aspect of tsunami disaster focus of UN conference
By United Nations
May 3, 2005, 23:54

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is convening a meeting of global policy makers this week in Thailand to identify key barriers and lessons learned in the first days of the emergency response and in the weeks of reconstruction following the devastating 26 December Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

The three-day conference, which kicks off tomorrow in Phuket, one of the resort areas hit by the giant waves, will ask tough questions about the international community’s response to health and other aspects of the disaster, which left an arc of devastation from Thailand to the Horn of Africa, killing 270,000 people and injuring another 500,000.

Parents lost their children, children were left orphaned and whole communities were torn apart. Untold numbers were left homeless, often without access to safe water or to shelter. Today, many people still live with the mental and physical trauma caused by the disaster and its aftermath.

Although the international response to this disaster was unprecedented – billions of dollars were raised around the world and international agencies moved supplies and staff quickly to the region – the WHO-led conference will ask whether more could have been done, more effectively and efficiently.

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