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Thousands need care: Scientist responds in earthquake aftermath

Anna Stewart Ibarra, PhD, in the midst of earthquake damage. (PHOTOS PROVIDED BY ANNA STEWART IBARRA, PhD)

Anna Stewart Ibarra, PhD, in the midst of earthquake damage. (PHOTOS PROVIDED BY ANNA STEWART IBARRA, PhD)


When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Ecuador on April 16, Anna Stewart Ibarra, PhD, transformed herself from scientist into leader of a relief team.

Stewart Ibarra is an infectious disease expert from Upstate working in Ecuador to help develop a device that would attract and kill mosquitos that spread dengue fever and the  Zika virus, among other diseases.

The earthquake  killed more than 600 people and left Ecuador in a state of emergency. Stewart Ibarra lives and works in Machala, in the southern coastal region, about 400 miles south of where the earthquake hit. She and her team felt the earthquake and the strong aftershocks every day for the following week.

“There are thousands of people without homes, sleeping outdoors, who need primary medical care, including many vulnerable infants and elderly,” she says via email.

Stewart Ibarra seeks donations of money to purchase medical supplies to be used by her team of volunteers in the coastal community of Bahía de Caráquez.

Upstate has a long-standing relationship with Ecuador through the Center for Global Health and Translational Science. Stewart Ibarra, an internationally recognized expert in the ecology of infectious diseases, has worked in Ecuador for the last nine years. Her research includes studies on the environmental and sociopolitical drivers of the transmission of dengue fever in coastal Ecuador, where dengue is hyper-endemic. She is rolling out new projects focused on Zika, an emerging epidemic in the region.

Children in Ecuador.

Children in Ecuador.

Stewart Ibarra says Ecuador has a shortage of health care professionals and will face a long-term public health crisis from the earthquake. She suggests doctors, nurses and other health professionals consider joining the relief effort by contacting Tina Lupone, an instructor in research administration at Upstate, at 315-464-9493 or [email protected].

Click here to learn more about the dengue research project and here to learn more about the Ecuador relief effort.

You can help

Visit www.foundationforupstate.org/Ecuador to make a donation to the Upstate Ecuador Earthquake Relief effort. Anna Stewart Ibarra, PhD, is in Ecuador and will direct where the money is spent.

summer 2016 upstate healthHLOA logoThis article appears in the summer 2016 issue of Upstate Health magazine. Hear an interview with Stewart Ibarra about dengue fever.

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