Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Health Lessons Learned from the Recent Earthquakes and Tsunami in Asia

  • Claude de Ville de Goyet (a1)

Abstract

The evaluations following the Tsunami that affected 12 countries (December 2004) and the earthquakes in Bam, Iran (2003), and in Pakistan (2005) offered valuable lessons for public health preparedness against all types of risks (natural, complex, or technological) in all countries (regardless their level of development).

The lessons learned, needs assessments, effectiveness of external life-saving assistance, disease surveillance and control, as well as donations management, were reviewed.

Although hundreds of surveys or studies were conducted, the needs assessments were partial and uncoordinated. The findings often were not shared by individual agencies.

The evaluations in each of the three disasters point to some additional issues:

1. Foreign mobile hospitals rarely arrived in time for immediate trauma care. Existing international guidelines for the use of field hospitals often were ignored and must be updated and promoted. Local and neighboring facilities are best at providing immediate, life-saving care;

2. Occassionally, the risk of epidemics was grossly overestimated by the agencies and the mass media. Surveillance and improved routine control programs work without resorting to costly, improvised immunization campaigns of doubtless value. Improving or re-establishing water and sanitation must be the first priority;

3. Health donations were not always appropriate, nor did they follow the World Health Organization guidelines. The costly destruction of inappropriate donations was a recurrent problem; and

4. Medical volunteers from within the affected country were abounding, but did not benefit from the external logistical and material support. The international community should provide logistical and material support before sending expatriate teams that are unfamiliar with the area and its health problems.

Investing in the preparedness of the national health services and communities should become a priority for disaster-prone countries and those assisting them in their development.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Consultant Disaster Risk Management & Humanitarian Affairs cdevill@attglobal.net

References

Hide All
1. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR): Living with Risk–A Global Review of Disaster Reduction Initiatives. Volume 2. Available at http://www.unisdr.org/eng/about_isdr/bd-lwr-2004-eng.htm. Accessed 05 January 2007.
2.Sommer, A, Mosby, W: East Bengal Cyclone of November, 1970. Epidemiological approach to disaster assessment.Lancet 1972;1(7759):10291036.
3.Sommer, A, Mosby, W: The Cyclone: Medical Assessment and Determination of Relief and Rehabilitation Needs. In: Chen, LC (ed.) Disasters in Bangladesh. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1973, pp 119–32.
4.Abolghasemi, H, Poorheidari, G, Mehrabi, A, Foroutan, G: Iranian Military Forces in the Bam Earthquake.Mil Med 2005;170(10):859861.
5.de Ville de Goyet, C, Zapata, R, Osorio, C: Natural Disasters Mitigation and Relief. In: Diseases Control Priorities in Developing Countries. 2d ed.Oxford Press and World Bank, 2006.
6. Tsunami Evaluation Coalition: Tsunami Evaluation Coalition/Funding Report, July 2006: Funding the Tsunami Response. Available at http://www.tsunami-evaluation.org/The+Tsunami Evaluation Coalition+Thematic+Evaluations/funding/. Accessed 05 January 2007.
7. Tsunami Evaluation Coalition: Tsunami Evaluation Coalition/Synthesis Report, July 2006: Joint Evaluation of the International Response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami.Available at http://www.tsunami-evaluation.org/The+Tsunami Evaluation Coalition+Synthesis+Report/. Accessed 05 January 2007.
8. Tsunami Evaluation Coalition: Tsunami Evaluation Coalition/Needs Assessment, July 2006: The Role of Needs Assessment in the Tsunami Response. Available at http://www.tsunami-evaluation.org/The+Tsunami Evaluation Coalition+Thematic+Evaluations/needs/. Accessed 05 January 2007.
9. Sphere: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response Handbook. Revised 2004 Edition. Available at http://www.sphere-project.org/content/view/27/84/lang,English/. Accessed 05 January 2007.
10.Griekspoor, A, Collins, S: Raising standards in emergency relief: How useful are Sphere minimum standards for humanitarian assistance? BMJ 2001;323(7315):740–742.
11. Tsunami Evaluation Coalition: Tsunami Evaluation Coalition/LRRD Report, July 2006. Links between Relief, Rehabilitation and Development in the Tsunami Response. Available at http://www.tsunami-evaluation.org/The+Tsunami Evaluation Coalition+Thematic+Evaluations/lrrd/. Accessed 05 January 2007.
12. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC): Red Cross World Disaster Report. 2004.
13. Pan-American Health Organization/World Health Organization (Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization): Natural Disasters Myths and Realities. 2001. Available at http://www.Pan American Health Organization.org/English/DD/PED/myths.htm. Accessed 05 January 2007.
14.Morgan, O: Infectious disease risks from dead bodies following natural disasters.Revista Panamericana de Salud Publica 2004;15(5):307312.
15.Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization: Countering tragedy with truth. Perspectives in Health 2005;10(1).
16. IFRC: Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and non-governmental organizations in Disaster Relief. 1994. Available at http://www.ifrc.org/publicat/conduct/index.asp. Accessed 05 January 2007.
17. Good Humanitarian Donorship: Principles and Good Practice of Humanitarian Donorship. 2003. Available at http://www.goodhumanitariandonorship.org/default.asp. Accessed 05 January 2007.
18. World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization: Guidelines on the Use of Foreign Field Hospitals. 2003. Available at http://www.disaster-info.net/hospital_disaster/work.htm. Accessed 05 January 2007.
19. United Nations Development Program: Global Report: Reducing Disaster Risk–A Challenge for Development. Available at http://www.undp.org/bcpr/disred/rdr.htm. Accessed 05 January 2007.
20. World Health Organization, World Bank, and ProVention Consortium: ProTsunami Evaluation Coalitionting New Health Facilities from Natural Disasters: Guidelines for the Promotion of Disaster Mitigation. 2003.Available at http://www.proventionconsortium.org/themes/default/pdfs/Pan American Health Organization_proTsunami Evaluation Coalitionting_health_facilities.pdf.Accessed 05 January 2007.
21. EM-DAT: The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database. Available at http://www.em-dat.net/. Accessed 06 September 2006.

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed