FEB 02, 2018 7:19 AM PST

Healthcare For Mothers and Babies After Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico, and that small island is still reeling from the storm. The official death toll is 18, however, because so much of the island remains without power and roads are not fully repaired, that count could be low. One of the biggest problems has, understandably, been health care.

In the first days of the storm and its aftermath, health facilities were hit hard. In an interview in The Atlantic, Carolina Pichardo, a pediatrician working shifts at two hospitals near San Juan, explained that even now, challenges remain, stating, "Many primary-care physicians are unable to provide services at their practice locations, so more and more people are using the emergency rooms for everyday medical problems. This places a larger burden on the emergency rooms and increases wait time among patients. Children have fallen behind on their immunization schedules because either their pediatricians are not currently practicing or they have lost their refrigerated vaccines due to a power outage."

Prenatal care, labor and delivery services and postpartum care are also at a premium. Even before the storm, care for women and babies was not ideal. Puerto Rico has the highest rates of Caesarian section births and the fifth highest number of premature births in the United States. Since the storm, women who are pregnant cannot always be treated at area hospitals, since many facilities have no power or have restricted care to trauma patients for stabilization only and do not have functional operating or delivery rooms.

Home birth presents another set of difficulties because, without access to midwives, nurses or doctors, women are not safe giving birth with no medical supervision. Many homes have no running water or sanitation, and this increases the risk of infection and disease. While some volunteer organizations like Centro MAM provide access to healthcare workers and clean water, the need is almost overwhelming.

FEMA initially sent supplies including diapers and formula; however, with the continued power and water issues, there are gaps in what mothers have access to. Aid from humanitarian organizations is continuing to arrive but cannot always get to those who may need it most. In any natural disaster, the primary goals are to stabilize the area and treat medical emergencies. As time passes, the healthcare needs change to more everyday concerns and maternal, and child health is one of the most pressing of these. Zika could be a factor as well since parts of the island have heavy infestations of mosquitos and without education and prenatal precautions, women are at an increased risk of getting the virus and passing it on to their child.

The video below has more information on how many are coping with pregnancy and newborn care.

Sources: NBC News, Vice News, The Atlantic

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
OCT 12, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
In vitro glycoengineering - Suitability for BioPharma manufacturing
OCT 12, 2020
In vitro glycoengineering - Suitability for BioPharma manufacturing
Introduction The importance of Fc glycosylation of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) with regard to biological activity is wi ...
OCT 11, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Newly-Found Molecules May Treat Neurodegeneration
OCT 11, 2020
Newly-Found Molecules May Treat Neurodegeneration
The NMDA receptor is known to play a crucial role in memory, and synaptic plasticity - where neurons change, altering ne ...
OCT 14, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
The CRISPR Nobel Win from Different Angles
OCT 14, 2020
The CRISPR Nobel Win from Different Angles
CRISPR-Cas9 was THE buzz word in the world of science after the Nobel Chemistry Prize announcement last week. But depend ...
OCT 15, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Gene Variants Influence Aging and Mobility in the Elderly
OCT 15, 2020
Gene Variants Influence Aging and Mobility in the Elderly
Small changes in a gene that is involved in controlling the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine could influence how ...
OCT 21, 2020
Immunology
CNS's immune cells - Microglia are involved in the exacerbation of MS
OCT 21, 2020
CNS's immune cells - Microglia are involved in the exacerbation of MS
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most progressive autoimmune diseases that affect the central nervous system where ...
OCT 23, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Follow Your Heart: A Genetic Predictor of Cardiovascular Disease
OCT 23, 2020
Follow Your Heart: A Genetic Predictor of Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally, resulting in the loss of nearly 18 million lives each yea ...
Loading Comments...