On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake occurred approximately 10 miles west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and created one of the worst humanitarian disasters in history. The purpose of this report is to describe the types of illness experienced by people living in tent camps around the city in the immediate aftermath of this event. The data were collected by a team of medical personnel working with an international nongovernmental organization and operating in the tent camps surrounding the city from day 15 to day 18 following the earthquake. In agreement with the existing literature describing patterns of illness in refugee and internally displaced populations, the authors note a preponderance of pediatric illness, with 53% of cases being patients younger than 20 years old and 25% younger than 5 years old. The most common complaints noted by category were respiratory (24.6%), gastrointestinal (16.9%), and genitourinary (10.9%). Another important feature of illness among this population was the observed high incidence of malnutrition among pediatric patients. This report should serve as a guide for future medical interventions in refugee and internally displaced people situations and reinforces the need for strong nutritional support programs in disaster relief operations of this kind.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2010;4:116-121)