Document / Publication
Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED)
The human impact of the tsunami on December 26 2004 was enormous: more than 175.000 people killed, almost 2 million affected and many people lost their homes. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand were worst hit with Indonesia bearing the greatest burden with nearly three-quarters of all dead and over half the homeless. Communicable disease outbreaks were foreseen in the aftermath of the disaster and the large number of dead bodies gave rise to widespread fear of epidemics. Evidence from previous natural disasters however, has shown that disease outbreaks are a very rare occurrence and it is well established that dead bodies do not pose a health threat. The objectives were to describe the patterns and relative importance of major diseases as a consequence of the tsunami, to compare these to the pre-existing disease profiles in Aceh before the disaster, to identify key recommendations for improvement of disease control and surveillance after disasters.