Publication: Utilization of Formal Health Services for Children Ages 1-5 in Aceh after the 2004 Tsunami : Which Children Did Not Receive the Health Care They Needed? Implications for Other Natural Disaster Relief Efforts
Rassekh, Bahie Mary
On December 26, 2004 the Indian Ocean earthquake and massive tsunami caused one of the most devastating natural disasters in history, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. The hardest-hit country was Indonesia, and the province closest to the epicenter of the earthquake was Aceh, on the northern coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island. These events caused great changes in the lives of the Acehnese, especially those populations who were displaced from their homes and patterns of life. In order to fully support Aceh’s reconstruction, health centers needed to be rebuilt and providers trained, but also more subtle behaviors of this vulnerable population had to be understood so that associated essential needs could be met. This historic event created a situation where living conditions, household structures, and household roles changed, and where trauma affected much of the population. With huge amounts of aid having been provided for Aceh, this evaluation of the situation in terms of children’s access and usage of necessary primary care is critical. This study was carried out in association with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Refugee and Disaster Response. It was part of the Center’s evaluation of the health status and living conditions of IDPs in the Aceh region of Indonesia, affected by the tsunami. In summary, this paper puts forth that, although utilization of formal health services for children was relatively high after the tsunami, there were certain children who received significantly less care, including those who were displaced, those who were being cared for by someone other than their mother, and those for whom one or both parents had died.