Emergency health in the aftermath of disasters: a post-Hurricane Matthew skin outbreak in rural Haiti

Toni Cela, Louis Herns Marcelin, Nadia Lise Fleurantin, Shesly Jean Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyze the context of the emergence of a skin infection outbreak in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and detail the role of community-based participatory research in mobilizing local action in a country with low state capacity. Design/methodology/approach: While implementing a post-disaster study that combined a survey of 984 households and 69 community leaders with 23 focus groups, 60 ethnographic interviews and community mapping, a skin infection outbreak was detected. Using study results, the research team in partnership with different stakeholders responded to the outbreak with a health intervention. Findings: The findings illustrate how pre-existing conditions shape local communities' vulnerability to health crises in the aftermath of disasters and the critical role research can play in informing the recovery processes. Community-based approaches to emergency health reinforced by multi-stakeholder partnerships with local government can strengthen post-disaster response and governance structures setting the groundwork for the development of local resilience. Research limitations/implications: The health intervention was implemented as a result of the study. Patients served were not derived from the study sample but were self-selected based on their need for skin-related medical treatment. Originality/value: This article highlights the integral role research can play in identifying the health impacts of disaster events in vulnerable, hard-to-reach communities and strengthening government involvement in disaster governance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDisaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Disaster health
  • Disaster recovery
  • Emergency health
  • Participatory research
  • Rural Haiti

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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