BOSTON - When natural disasters force people to pack their bags and flee to safety, important items are often forgotten. Following California’s 2007 wildfire season, it was estimated that, “at least one family member per household left prescription medication behind during evacuation.” Likewise, when Hurricane Harvey threatened to flood my own mother’s Texas home in August 2017, she forgot to grab her medication in her rush to escape the storm’s path - even though she was normally meticulous when packing for a trip.
With climate change contributing to the increased severity and frequency of such disasters, preventing interruptions in healthcare and meeting displaced people’s unmet health needs will become an increasingly urgent task. It is already a well-known fact that extreme weather drives migration and statelessness, displacing 21.5 million people per year - or 41 people per minute. Hurricanes, cyclones, floods, and wildfires regularly disrupt access to preventative services - such as routine cancer screening - mental-health services, and treatments for chronic diseases. Due to both a severe drought and a civil war, many Syrian refugees lost all access to healthcare and were later found to suffer fromThe content herein is subject to copyright by Project Syndicate. All rights reserved. The content of the services is owned or licensed to The Yuan. The copying or storing of any content for anything other than personal use is expressly prohibited without prior written permission from The Yuan, or the copyright holder identified in the copyright notice contained in the content.