Listening to the radio this morning to reporters visiting the epicenter of the Haitian quake, I heard locals complaining that no one had come to help them. Locals said they need food, water, and shelter; when rains come they will get cold. The reporters, however, seemed obsessed with noting that locals need medicine. They also focused on local efforts to dig out and bury their dead.
Given their desperate need for food, water, and shelter, it seems unlikely to me that medicine is such a priority. Furthermore, experts say, dead bodies are just not a problem:
Corpses do not represent a public health threat. When death is due to the initial impact of the event and not because of disease, dead bodies have not been associated with outbreaks.
I’m not sure to what extent we are seeing a bias in Haitians, in the reporters, or in their US audience. But surely epicenter Haitians have more important worries than medicine and dead bodies.
Added: The contrast between the oh so visible US concern and US planes flying around Haiti with loudspeakers warning locals not to try to boat it to the US is quite striking. Clearly at some level US folks realize they could help Haitians most by letting them immigrate. If we (thought we) cared less and were instead eager to gain migrant farm workers and household servants, we might end up helping Haitians more.