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 Global Health International Advisors

Areas of Interest

Disaster Risk Management

Main Issues

Disasters and other emergencies often cause significant impact on the health of affected individuals, including loss of life, injury, disease, disability, and lasting psychosocial conditions. A study reported that, o ver a twenty-year period, about 8,500 natural disasters happened globally, affecting more than 2.6 billion persons. Underreporting is a major problem--a comparative analysis of disaster statistics in Latin America found that for each disaster listed in global disaster databases, twenty other significant adverse events affecting local communities were not recorded.

During the last few decades, biological emergencies such as SARS, influenza (H1N1 and H5N1), Ebola, and cholera have assumed an increasing importance. Technological hazards include power outages, chemical and hazardous materials incidents, nuclear and radiological events, dam failures, power plant failures, and cybersecurity. Usually, little or no warning precedes incidents involving technological hazards. The International Federation of the Red Cross has estimated that between 1998 and 2007, there were nearly 3,200 technological disasters with approximately 100,000 people killed and nearly 2 million people involved.

Complex collective emergencies, including armed conflicts, continue to affect tens of millions, causing displacement of people both inside and across borders. It was estimated that, in 2010, there were 27 million persons internally displaced by conflicts. Climate changes, natural or consequence to human activity, also contribute to increased risk for millions of individuals and their homes, communities, and related infrastructure.


The impact of disasters can be avoided or reduced by multi-sectoral measures including:

(1) hazard and vulnerability reduction to prevent and mitigate risks,

(2) preparedness,

(3) early response, and

(4) recovery.

In emergencies, the health care system can provide core capacities for disaster risk management and community-based actions at the frontline. Planning to maintain the continuity of health sector operations in disaster situations is essential and includes:

(1) identification of required priority services,

(2) ensuring operational capacity,

(3) mechanisms for response coordination,

(4) coordination and communication with health staff and partner organizations,

(5) addressing the associated issues of energy, water, sanitation, nutrition, and security, and

(6) ensuring that responsible actors provide essential infrastructure such as communication technologies, logistics, and transportation.





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