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Global Health Efforts BEFORE and AFTER Disasters Strike:
The Turkey Earthquake and Beyond

Stacey Chamberlain, MD, MPH – Director of Academic Programs, UIC Center for Global Health
Professor Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Illinois Chicago College of Medicine

The earthquake that struck in southern Turkey on February 6th has created an all-too-familiar scene of devastation and death both in Turkey and in northern Syria where the natural disaster is superimposed on already dire conditions from more than 11 years of civil war. A 2021 United Nations report notes that climate change and increasingly extreme weather events have caused a surge in natural disasters over the past 50 years, which have disproportionately impacted low-income countries. An increase in disasters, leading to further impoverishment, threatens to cancel global progress that has been made on poverty reduction, which has been the focus initially of the Millenium Development Goals and subsequently the Sustainable Development Goals. The health impacts of these disasters and associated poverty are evident, including not only immediate deaths from injuries but also longer-term effects on health ranging from mental health to cancer care.

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