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January 11, 2011

Return to Haiti

Faculty from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Refugee and Disaster Response (CRDR) are returning to Haiti one year after the earthquake that killed thousands and displaced many more. The researchers will be conducting post-response surveys to determine the impact of disasters on the affected population and to assess the quality of the response efforts in meeting their needs. Surveys will be conducted simultaneously in Pakistan, which was affected by severe flooding, and in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, which was hit by a tsunami in 2005. The three surveys, funded by the Johnson & Johnson Foundation and the CRDR Advisory Committee, will measure the impact of short-term, mid-term and long-term disaster relief.

Post-disaster assessment is critical to understanding the impact of an event and improving response efforts in the future. Billions of dollars are spent annually on disaster response with little regulation and limited information on the actual impact of relief effort. CRDR faculty are working to develop the tools to  improve response efforts in the future.

Shannon Doocy, PhD, assistant professor with CRDR and the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health, will head research in Haiti and work with Project Concern International and a Haitian non-governmental organization, IDEJEN, which employs local students and trains them in research and survey techniques. Students Paul Perrin and Sally Graglia will assist with the research conducted in Port-au-Prince.

Courtland Robinson, PhD, assistant professor with CRDR and Department of International Health, will lead the survey team in Indonesia, assisted by Indonesian collaborators and students Christopher Lee and Sana Malik. This study is a follow-up to prior studies conducted at 1 and 3 years after the 2005 tsunami and will help to determine how major disasters affect people years after the event.

Tom Kirsch, MD, MPH, associate professor and co-director of CRDR, is working with the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health in Pakistan to assess the impact of the floods that affected 20 million people in the summer of 2010. He will be assisted by students Lillian Digiacomo, Mohammed Siddiqui and Pauline Lubens.