Dr. Alexis R. Santos-Lozada

Following Maria in Puerto Rico Over 1100 Deaths

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Alexis R. Santos-Lozada

Dr. Santos-Lozada

Dr. Alexis R. Santos-Lozada
Director, Graduate Program in Applied Demography
Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminology
Research Affiliate, Population Research Institute
College of Liberal Arts
Penn State University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Dr. Howard and I have been working on the topic of deaths attributable to Hurricane Maria since November, and provided rapid-response estimates by the end of November about the humanitarian crisis experienced by Puerto Ricans following the Hurricane.

Our main findings are that there are approximately 1,139 deaths in excess of historical patterns between September, October and November in Puerto Rico.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The estimation of deaths attributable to climate disasters is something that we approach with humility and keeping in mind the implications of such an analysis. Our hope is that this analysis, which uses vital statistics records, helps the government and policy makers revise emergency management protocols and information dissemination policies so that academia and public health expert can become active participants in disaster relief efforts.  

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: We recommend a careful revision of both emergency management protocols, as well as, a careful evaluation of information dissemination protocols so that in the advent of future disasters (if they were to happen) we can act as an united front to prevent deaths.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: We hope our study helps the government, policy makers, and other stakeholders inform their policies and know that alliances with the academic sector can produce these analysis which can help prevent deaths among those most vulnerable groups.   


Santos-Lozada AR, Howard JT. Use of Death Counts From Vital Statistics to Calculate Excess Deaths in Puerto Rico Following Hurricane Maria. JAMA. Published online August 02, 2018. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.10929

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Last Updated on August 6, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD