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Medical News & Perspectives
August 24/31, 2005

As Tsunami Recovery Proceeds, Experts Ponder Lessons for Future Disasters

JAMA. 2005;294(8):889-890. doi:10.1001/jama.294.8.889

Atlanta—Several teams of mental health professionals—few, if any, of whom spoke any Asian language—rushed from the United States, Italy, Sweden, and other countries to Sri Lanka and Indonesia in early January to offer counseling to survivors of the tsunami that had ravaged coastal regions of South Asia and East Africa on December 26, 2004.

The tsunami had razed homes, hospitals, businesses, schools, roads, bridges, and communication systems; destroyed food supplies and crops; contaminated drinking water; and killed livestock. The visitors needed housing, food, transportation, and translators, all scarce in the aftermath of the 100-foot-high tidal wave that killed at least 300 000 individuals, injured more than 500 000, and displaced more than 1 million.