The wars in the Middle East have led to unprecedented threats and attacks on patients, healthcare workers, and purposeful targeting of hospitals and medical facilities. It is crucial that every healthcare provider, both civilian and military, on either side of the conflict become aware of the unique and inherent protections afforded to them under International Humanitarian Law. However, these protections come with obligations. Whereas Governments must guarantee these protections, when violated, medical providers have equal duty and obligations under the Law to ensure that they will neither commit nor assist in these violations nor take part in any act of hostility. Healthcare providers must not allow any inhuman or degrading treatment of which they are aware and must report such actions to the appropriate authorities. Failure to do so leads to risks of moral, ethical and legal consequences as well as penalties for their actions and inactions. There must be immediate recognition by all parties of the neutrality of health care workers and their rights and responsibilities to care for any sick and injured patient, regardless of their nationality, race, religion, or political point of view.
Introduction: On April 6th 2009 an earthquake of Mw=6.3 hit the historical downtown of L’Aquila and its hinterland causing more than 300 fatalities and severe damage to private and public buildings. At the time, the University of L’Aquila represented a major source of employment and income for the city. The earthquake impacted both the facilities and the administrative, financial and patrimonial activities of the university, bringing into the open the tendency – widespread in Italy – to rely on adaptive tactics rather than on strategic pre-disaster plans. This paper investigates the university’s emergency preparedness and response capability and the strategies adopted to restore the education activities as well as avoid students migration to other universities. In addition, emphasis is placed on the role played by Student Associations in pre and post-disaster phases, and how students perceived the activities performed by these associations.
Methods: To achieve this goal, it was undertaken: i) qualitative evaluation to assess the impact of earthquake on services and facilities of the university, the emergency preparedness and the measures adopted to face the emergency, ii) survey on the role played by Student Associations, both in emergency preparedness and response, according to students’ perception; iii) quantitative analysis to measure changes in the enrollment trend after the earthquake, and how university policies could curb students’ migration.
Results: The policies adopted by the University allowed to diminish students’ migration; however, the measures taken by the university were based on an ad hoc plan as no emergency and continuity plans were prepared in advance. Similarly Student Associations got involved more in restoration activities than in emergency preparedness and risk awareness promotion.
Discussion: Greater awareness and involvement are essential at each level (administrators, faculties, students) to plan in advance for an adverse scenario and to make important steps forward in understanding and embracing a culture of safety. The present paper is starting point for future research to deepen the emergency preparedness of Universities and the role that Student Associations may play to support and spread such a culture of safety.
Introduction: Anti-social behavior and self-preservation are often assumed to be normal responses to threats and disasters; on the contrary, decades of research and empirical studies in social sciences showed that pro-social behaviors are frequently common and that solidarity is the typical response to a variety of threats. The main objective of this study is to investigate and describe survivors’ behavior, especially solidarity, according to the presence of familiar persons and to the perception of physical danger, elaborating the framework of Mawson’s social attachment theory.
Methods: In order to investigate these relationships, a behavioral research was carried out involving 288 people affected by the December 8th 2013 Haiyan Typhoon (Yolanda).
Results: Results revealed that solidarity was predominant and people reacted collectively and actively taking part in relief activities. Furthermore, we found strong solidarity and help towards strangers and unfamiliar persons.
Discussion: Investigating how people react is essential to develop a more efficient and effective response strategy, especially in the immediate aftermath of a disaster when disaster managers have little control of the situation and people rely on themselves; the natural tendency to help others can be essential to reduce losses and to fill the temporal gap between the event and the arrival of the organized relief unit.
The reasons for global health crises and how the world responds to them have dramatically changed over the last half century. Increasingly, natural disasters result in failure of public health and security systems leading to preventable conflict, unconventional war and unprecedented population migration. While scientific expertise exists to mitigate these failures in fragile states and ungoverned territories, inactions are mired by the lack of political will, international legal mandates, and capacity to strategically monitor multidisciplinary public health indicator failures.
Background: The exposure of people and infrastructure to flood and storm related disasters across the world is increasing faster than vulnerability is decreasing. For people with non-communicable diseases this presents a significant risk as traditionally the focus of disaster management systems has been on immediate trauma and communicable diseases. This focus must now be expanded to include the management of non-communicable diseases because these conditions are generating the bulk of ill health, disability and premature death around the globe. When public health service infrastructure is destroyed or damaged access to treatment and care is severely jeopardised, resulting in an increased risk of non-communicable disease exacerbation or even death. This research proposes disaster responders, coordinators and government officials are vital assets to mitigate and eventually prevent these problems from being exacerbated during a disaster. This is due to their role in supporting the public health service infrastructure required to maximise treatment and care for people with non-communicable diseases. By focusing on the disaster cycle as a template, and on mitigation and prevention phases in particular, these actions and activities performed by disaster service responders will lead to overall improved preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation phases.
Methods: Data were collected via 32 interviews and one focus group (eight participants) between March 2014 and August 2015 (total of 40 participants). The research was conducted in the State of Queensland, Australia, with disaster service providers. The analysis included the phases of: organizing data; data description; data classification; and interpretation.
Results: The research found a relationship between the impact of a disaster on public health service infrastructure, and increased health risks for people with non-communicable diseases. Mitigation strategies were described for all phases of the disaster cycle impacting public health service infrastructure. Specific measures include: increasing the use of telemedicine; preplanning with medical suppliers; effective town planning; health professionals visiting evacuation centers; evacuation centers having power for medical equipment; hubs for treatment and care after a disaster; evacuation of high risk people prior to disaster; mapping people at risk by non-communicable disease; and a mechanism for sharing information between agencies. A common theme from the participants was that having accurate and easily accessible data on people with non-communicable diseases would allow disaster service providers to adequately prepare for and respond to a disaster.
Conclusions: Disaster service providers can play a vital role in reducing the risk of disaster exacerbated non-communicable diseases through public health service infrastructure resilience. They are often employed in communities where disasters occur and are therefore best-placed to lead implementation of the mitigation strategies identified in this research. To sustainably implement the mitigation strategies they will need to become integrated into effective performance and monitoring of the disaster response and health sector during non-disaster periods. For this to occur, the strategies should be integrated into business and strategic plans. Achieving this will help implement the Sendia Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and, most importantly, help protect the health of people with non-communicable diseases before, during and after a disaster.
Introduction: On November 8, 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, causing a humanitarian emergency. According to the World Health Organization, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are the leading cause of death and disability around the world. NCDs kill 38 million people each year. Sixteen million NCD deaths occur before the age of 70; 82% of which occurred in low- and middle-income countries. NCDs are further exacerbated during a crisis, and addressing them should be a concern of any medical disaster response.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study to determine the prevalence of hypertension among patients seeking medical care at mobile medical clinics after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Results: A total of 3,730 adults were evaluated at the mobile medical clinics. Analysis of the medical records revealed that the overall prevalence of hypertension among adult patients was 47%. Approximately 24% of adult females and 27% of adult males were classified with stage 2 Hypertension.
Conclusions: Evidence-based guidelines on the management of hypertension and other NCDs (diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease and mental health) during humanitarian emergencies are limited. Clinical care of victims of humanitarian emergencies suffering with NCDs should be a critical part of disaster relief and recovery efforts. We therefore recommend the development of best practices and evidence based management guidelines of hypertension and other NCDs in post-disaster settings.
Introduction: Syrian refugees displaced into Turkey have attempted high-risk sea migrations to reach safer destinations in Europe, most often initially arriving on the Greek island of Lesvos. These refugees were often in need of basic humanitarian assistance that has been provided in part by a new category of ad hoc grassroots organizations (AHGOs). The aim of this study was to understand the internal and external operations of these AHGOs and their role on Lesvos.
Methods: The experiences of AHGOs were investigated through a qualitative research design utilizing semi-structured interviews with organization leaders and spokespersons. AHGOs identified through media and social media sources as new Lesvos-specific organizations were purposively invited to complete an interview over phone, Skype or email. Data analysis of the transcribed interviews was performed by Systematic Text Condensation.
Results: Forty-one organizations were contacted and 13 interviews were conducted. Most organizations were formed in autumn 2015 responding to the greater influx of refugees and migrants at that time and reported an absence of professional humanitarian agencies providing aid on Lesvos. Three categories emerged from the material. Features of organizations; Features of volunteers and; Evolution of AHGOs. The organizations perceived themselves capable of evaluating needs, mobilizing resources, funding and providing quick response. The volunteers came with limited humanitarian experience and from a wide variety of nationalities and professional backgrounds, and the organizations developed while on Lesvos.
Discussion: Knowledge from our findings of AHGOs response to this complex disaster on Lesvos could be utilized in future catastrophes. We conclude that AHGOs may prove effective at providing humanitarian aid in a surge response when international non-governmental organizations are unable to respond quickly. In future complex disasters AHGOs should be recognized as new humanitarian actors and conditions should be made favourable for their operations.
Background:Lower extremity trauma during earthquakes accounts for the largest burden of geophysical disaster-related injuries. Insufficient pain management is common in disaster settings, and regional anesthesia (RA) has the potential to reduce pain in injured patients beyond current standards. To date, no prospective research has evaluated the use of RA in a disaster setting. This cross-sectional study assesses knowledge translation and skill acquisition outcomes for lower extremity RA performed with and without ultrasound guidance among a cohort of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) volunteers who will function as proceduralists in a planned randomized controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of RA for pain management in an earthquake setting.
Methods:Generalist humanitarian healthcare responders, including both physicians and nurses, were trained in ultrasound guided femoral nerve block (USGFNB) and landmark guided fascia iliaca compartment block (LGFICB) techniques using didactic sessions and interactive simulations during a one-day focused course. Outcome measures evaluated interval knowledge attainment and technical proficiency in performing the RA procedures. Knowledge attainment was assessed via pre- and post-test evaluations and procedural proficiency was evaluated through monitored simulations, with performance of critical actions graded by two independent observers.
Results:Twelve humanitarian response providers were enrolled and completed the trainings and assessments. Knowledge scores significantly increased from a mean pre-test score of 79% to post-test score of 88% (p<0.001). In practical evaluation of the LGFICB, participants correctly performed a median of 15.0 (Interquartile Range (IQR) 14.0-16.0) out of 16 critical actions. For the USGFNB, the median score was also 15.0 (IQR 14.0-16.0) out of 16 critical actions. Inter-rater reliability for completion of critical actions was excellent, with inter-rater agreement of 83.3% and 91.7% for the LGFICB and USGFNB evaluations, respectively.
Discussion:Prior to conducting a trial of RA in a disaster setting, providers need to gain understanding and skills necessary to perform the interventions. This evaluation demonstrated attainment of high knowledge and technical skill scores in both physicians and nurses after a brief training in regional anesthesia techniques. This study demonstrates the feasibility of rapidly training generalist humanitarian responders to provide both LGFICB and USGFNB during humanitarian emergencies.
Introduction: A number of studies published by the World Trade Center Health Registry (Registry) document the prevalence of injuries sustained by victims of the World Trade Center Disaster (WTCD) on 9/11. Injury occurrence during or in the immediate aftermath of this event has been shown to be a risk factor for long-term adverse physical and mental health status. More recent reports of ongoing physical health and mental health problems and overall poor quality of life among survivors led us to undertake this qualitative study to explore the long-term impact of having both disaster-related injuries and peri-event traumatic exposure on quality of life in disaster survivors.
Methods: Semi-structured, in-depth individual telephone interviews were conducted with 33 Registry enrollees who reported being injured on 9/11/01. Topics included: extent and circumstance of the injury(ies), description of medical treatment for injury, current health and functional status, and lifestyle changes resulting from the WTCD. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and inductively open-coded for thematic analysis.
Results: Six themes emerged with respect to long term recovery and quality of life: concurrent experience of injury with exposure to peri-event traumatic exposure (e.g., witnessing death or destruction, perceived life threat, etc.); sub-optimal quality and timeliness of short- and long-term medical care for the injury reported and mental health care; poor ongoing health status, functional limitations, and disabilities; adverse impact on lifestyle; lack of social support; and adverse economic impact. Many study participants, especially those reporting more serious injuries, also reported self-imposed social isolation, an inability to participate in or take enjoyment from previously enjoyable leisure and social activities and greatly diminished overall quality of life.
Discussion: This study provided unique insight into the long-term impact of disasters on survivors. Long after physical injuries have healed, some injured disaster survivors report having serious health and mental health problems, economic problems due to loss of livelihood, limited sources of social support, and profound social isolation. Strategies for addressing the long-term health problems of disaster survivors are needed in order to support recovery.
The recent Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week Celebration highlighted the growing commitment to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the Philippines. The event was lead by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Health, and saw the participation of national and international experts in DRR, and numerous research consortia from all over the Philippines. With a central focus on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the DRR related events recognised the significant disaster risks faced in the Philippines. They also illustrated the Philippine strengths and experience in DRR. Key innovations in science and technology showcased at the conference include the web-base hazard mapping applications ‘Project NOAH’ and ‘FaultFinder’. Other notable innovations include ‘Surveillance in Post Extreme Emergencies and Disasters’ (SPEED) which monitors potential outbreaks through a syndromic reporting system. Three areas noted for further development in DRR science and technology included: integrated national hazard assessment, strengthened collaboration, and improved documentation. Finally, the event saw the proposal to develop the Philippines into a global hub for DRR. The combination of the risk profile of the Philippines, established national structures and experience in DRR, as well as scientific and technological innovation in this field are potential factors that could position the Philippines as a future global leader in DRR. The purpose of this article is to formally document the key messages of the DRR-related events of the PNHRS Week Celebration.