Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and The Children's Health Fund had jointly conducted a study and the results say that thousands of sufferers of hurricanes Katrina and Rita are now in turmoil. They have been inflicted by a host of serious medical and mental health problems, but receiving little or no treatment. An accompanying analysis has called for immediate action from Congress to respond to this looming health crisis.
Children are suffering from high rates of chronic health conditions and poor access to care says that study. The displaced have lost stability, income, and security and so affected by a host of mental problems as well. And the safety nets designed to protect the welfare of children and families were found to have major gaps.
The study was called "On The Edge - The Louisiana Child & Family Health Study". David Abramson, PhD, MPH, associate research scientist at the Mailman School of Public Health, is the study's principal investigator.
From February 11 through February 20, 2006, the survey team interviewed 665 randomly-selected households among the 12,000 households (representing more than 30,000 people) in FEMA-subsidized community housing in Louisiana. Among their key findings:
> one-third of children have at least one diagnosed chronic medical condition and are more likely to suffer from asthma, behavioral or conduct problems, developmental delay or physical impairment, and learning disabilities.
More than half the women caregivers showed evidence of clinically-diagnosed psychiatric problems, such as depression or anxiety disorders. > than one-fifth of the school-age children who were displaced were either not in school, or had missed 10 or more days of school in the past month.
The study concluded that failing to provide stable health and mental health care will likely have long-term consequences.
They advocated additional planning which should address the ability of schools to reach out and engage students and their families in emergency and transitional housing settings.