Introduction: Earthquake is the most important cause of death from natural disasters in Iran. This paper brings attention to the main causes of loss of life due to the Kermanshah province earthquake (Nov 12 2017), and provides a wakeup call about the unsafe nature of buildings there. Methods: This study is based on official reports review and a field assessment in the areas affected by the earthquake in western Iran. Results: Although buildings in this area are mainly old structures, strangely, more than 70% of the destroyed buildings in this earthquake were under 5 years of age, newly built or renovated buildings according to mandated building codes. Discussion: Mandated building codes and construction rules and regulations are not respected even for the newly constructed or reconstructed structures buildings. Keywords: Earthquake, Iran, construct, reconstruct, Building codes
Introduction: To report on activities aligned with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, national governments will use the Sendai Monitor platform to track progress using a series of indicators that inform seven Global Targets originally agreed in 2015. In February 2017, the UN General Assembly adopted a set of 38 agreed indicators based on work led by an open-ended intergovernmental expert working group (OIEWG) on indicators and terminology relating to disaster risk reduction. In January 2018 the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction released technical guidance documents in advance of the launch of the Sendai Monitor in March 2018. Methods: This paper discusses several challenges to recording and reporting on loss data under the Sendai Framework. Additional insights to elaborate on discussion build upon commentary and examples raised during a workshop held on developing loss data that was hosted by the United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme, and Public Health England (PHE) from February 15-17 2017 at the Royal Society in London, United Kingdom. The meeting’s purpose was to refine technical guidance notes concerning Global Targets A, B, C, and D, which had been drafted in coordination with the work of the OIEWG. The workshop was attended by representatives from UN Agencies, UN Member States, international scientific bodies, academic bodies, the government of the United Kingdom and the private sector. Results: Global Targets A, B, C and D of the Sendai Framework have common and specific complexities which require acknowledgement and support in recording, reporting and using disaster loss data. Discussions during the February 2017 loss data workshop highlighted a number of complexities and the need for common standards and principles for loss data. Individual target complexities include attribution of health impacts, assessing impacts, consistently calculating economic losses and measuring disruption to critical infrastructure. Discussion: Transparent monitoring is critical to ensure political will, financial efforts and effective evidence support the global shift towards more sustainable development. Data involves common challenges which can undermine accuracy and understanding of reporting across the frameworks that outline the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda. Disaster loss data adds further challenges which require support and innovation to ensure stakeholders across sectors in all sectors have appropriate technical guidance that can support useful loss data management processes. The February 2017 workshop highlighted systemic challenges with working with loss data and highlighted several pertinent pathways to progress on the breadth and reliability of disaster loss data across different settings.
Abstract Background: Animal ownership has been identified as a risk factor for human survivability of natural disasters. Animal guardians have been reported to react or act in ways that may put their own safety and that of emergency services personnel at risk when faced with a natural disaster. Recent research has suggested that this risk factor could be reconfigured as a protective factor, whereby desires to save animals from natural disaster harm could motivate increased planning and preparedness behaviours amongst animal guardians. However, there has been no research to determine if bushfire planning and response behaviours differ between pet owners with low and high attachment; and how the relationship may differ in relation to small or large animals. Methods and procedure: We investigated the relationship between people’s emotional attachment to different types of pets and their preparation and actions during the Pinery bushfire in South Australia in November 2015. Thirty-four people who were impacted by the fire participated in an online survey. Data were collected about their preparedness, planning and response behaviours as well as their animal attachment (high or low). Results: We identified 10 characteristics (behaviours, attributes, skills and beliefs) associated with high animal attachment scores, and eight associated with low animal attachment scores. Discussion: Our discussion of the differences in demographics, preparedness, planning and response characteristics of participants with high and low animal attachment confirms research suggesting that animal guardians take risks to save their animals during disasters. Our findings also support recent propositions that animal attachment and ownership could be used to increase the natural disaster preparedness and survivability of animal guardians. However, making sure that animal attachment functions as a protective factor requires active and effective intervention through education, behaviour change and social marketing strategies. Whilst our study is high in ecological validity, future research with larger samples sizes is required to determine the generalisability of our findings to animal owners and guardians in other locations, facing fires with other characteristics, especially for owners and guardians with low levels of attachment.
Introduction: Despite existing policy actions on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), many community members in Bududa still continue to settle in high-risk areas re-zoned for nonsettlement. There seems to be an apparent information asymmetry on expectations between the community and Government. The challenge then is ‘how to consult communities and seek their opinion in an adequately representative unbiased way’. This paper sets out to explore policy options on resettlement management as a DRR approach and how engaging with communities in a public discourse using the Deliberative Polling (DP) approach; to obtain their opinions and insights on these policy issues, revealed underlying challenges to policy implementation.
Methods: A qualitative study was conducted in Bududa in eastern Uganda with fourteen group discussions; comprising 12-15 randomly assigned participants of mixed socio-economic variables. Trained research assistants and moderators collected data. All discussions were audio taped, transcribed verbatim before analysis. Data were analyzed using latent content analysis by identifying codes from which sub-themes were generated and grouped into main themes on policy options for resettlement management.
Results and Discussion: We used Deliberative Polling, an innovative approach to public policy consultation and found that although the community is in agreement with most government policy options under resettlement management, they lacked an understanding of the rationale underlying these policy options leading to challenges in implementation. The community members seemed uncertain and had mistrust in government’s ability to implement the policies especially on issues of compensation for land lost.
Key Words: Policy, Deliberative Polling, Climate change, risk-reduction, landslides, Uganda
Introduction: An all-of-society approach to disaster risk reduction emphasizes inclusion and engagement in preparedness activities. A common recommendation is to promote household preparedness through the preparation of a ‘grab bag’ or ‘disaster kit’, that can be used to shelter-in-place or evacuate. However, there are knowledge gaps related to how this strategy is being used around the world as a disaster risk reduction strategy, and what evidence there is to support recommendations.
Methods: In this paper, we present an exploratory study undertaken to provide insight into how grab bag guidelines are used to promote preparedness in Canada, China, England, Japan, and Scotland, and supplemented by a literature review to understand existing evidence for this strategy.
Results: There are gaps in the literature regarding evidence on grab bag effectiveness. We also found variations in how grab bag guidelines are promoted across the five case studies.
Discussion: While there are clearly common items recommended for household grab bags (such as water and first aid kits), there are gaps in the literature regarding: 1) the evidence base to inform guidelines; 2) uptake of guidelines; and 3) to what extent grab bags reduce demands on essential services and improve disaster resilience.
Introduction: Flooding is a common natural disaster affecting 77.8 million people and claiming the lives of 4,731 people globally in 2016. During times of flood, drowning is a leading cause of death. Flooding is a known risk factor for river drowning in Australia. With little known about river usage in Australia, this study aimed to examine the links between person demographics and self-reported participation in two flood-related behaviours, driving through floodwaters and swimming in a flooded river. Methods: A self-reported questionnaire was administered to adult river users at four high-risk river drowning locations; Alligator Creek, Townsville, Queensland; Murrumbidgee River, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales; Murray River, Albury, New South Wales; and Hawkesbury River, Windsor, New South Wales. Univariate and chi square analysis was undertaken with a 95% confidence interval (p<0.05). All river users surveyed, were also breathalysed to record an estimate of their blood alcohol content (BAC) on their expired breath. Results: 688 river users responded to the questionnaire; 676 (98.3%) answered the driving question and 674 (98.0%) answered the swimming in floodwaters questions. Of the respondents, 35.7% stated they had driven through floodwater and 18.7% had swum in a flooded river. Males were more likely (p<0.001) to report having undertaken both activities. Australian-born respondents were more likely to report having driven through floodwaters (p=0.006). Those aged 18-24 years old and those residing in outer regional areas were more likely (p<0.001) to have swum in a flooded river. Those who self-reported participating in both driving through floodwaters (p=0.001) and swimming in a flooded river (p<0.001) were significantly more likely to record contributory levels of alcohol (i.e. a BAC ≥0.05%) when breathalysed at the river. Discussion: Ensuring the safe movement of people during floods is difficult, particularly for those living in regional Australia, due in part to long distances travelled and reduced investment in infrastructure such as bridges. With males and females equally exposed, more effective prevention strategies must target both sexes and may include improved education on when it is safe to drive through (low depth, still water, stable road base) and when it is not (e.g. deep water, moving water and unstable road base). This study identified one in five respondents had swum in a flooded river, most commonly young people aged 18-24 years, with participants signficantly more likely to have recorded contributory levels of alcohol when breathalysed. Further research should examine the reasons behind participation in this behaviour, including the role of alcohol. Conclusion: Preventing drowning in floodwaters is an international challenge, made more difficult by people driving through or swimming in floodwaters. Strategies for driving through floodwaters should educate both males and females on when it is safe to drive through floodwaters and when it is not. Further research is required to improve knowledge of the poorly understood behaviour of swimming in flooded rivers.
Introduction: The development of depressive symptoms among the population of civilians who were not directly involved in recovery or rescue efforts following the 9/11 World Trade Center (WTC) terrorist attacks is not comprehensively understood. We performed a meta-analysis that examined the associations between multiple risk factors and depressive symptoms after the 9/11 WTC terrorist attacks in New York City among civilians including survivors, residents, and passersby.
Methods: PubMed, Google Scholar, and the Cochrane Library were searched from September, 2001 through July, 2016. Reviewers identified eligible studies and synthesized odds ratios (ORs) using a random-effects model.
Results: The meta-analysis included findings from 7 studies (29,930 total subjects). After adjusting for multiple comparisons, depressive symptoms were significantly associated with minority race/ethnicity (OR, 1.40; 99.5% Confidence Interval [CI], 1.04 to 1.88), lower income level (OR, 1.25; 99.5% CI, 1.09 to 1.43), post-9/11 social isolation (OR, 1.68; 99.5% CI, 1.13 to 2.49), post-9/11 change in employment (OR, 2.06; 99.5% CI, 1.30 to 3.26), not being married post-9/11 (OR, 1.59; 99.5% CI, 1.18 to 2.15), and knowing someone injured or killed (OR, 2.02; 99.5% CI, 1.42 to 2.89). Depressive symptoms were not significantly associated with greater age (OR, 0.86; 99.5% CI, 0.70 to 1.05), no college degree (OR, 1.32; 99.5% CI, 0.96 to 1.83), female sex (OR, 1.24; 99.5% CI, 0.98 to 1.59), or direct exposure to WTC related traumatic events (OR, 1.26; 99.5% CI, 0.69 to 2.30).
Discussion: Findings from this study suggest that lack of post-disaster social capital was most strongly associated with depressive symptoms among the civilian population after the 9/11 WTC terrorist attacks, followed by bereavement and lower socioeconomic status. These risk factors should be identified among civilians in future disaster response efforts.
Background. Five years of conflict in Syria have led to 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and 6.6 million internally displaced people. Humanitarian needs are ever-increasing as an inability to maintain humanitarian corridors and ceasefires continue. In light of the protracted nature of the conflict, immense needs, and dearth of large-scale data, we undertook this assessment to inform humanitarian response.
Methods. A survey of accessible areas, which were largely urban and government controlled, was undertaken from April – June 2016 to identify unmet needs and assistance priorities. A cluster design with probability sampling was used to attain a final sample of 2,405 households from ten of fourteen governorates; 31 of 65 (47.7%) districts were included that are home to 38.1% of people in need (PiN).
Results. Overall 45% of households received assistance in the preceding month; receipt of aid was lowest in al-Hasakeh (17%). Shelter was a concern, with 48% of households having shelter need(s); the unmet shelter needs were highest in the West Coast, Rif Damascus and al-Hasakeh. Food security was a major concern where 64% had unmet food needs and 65% at least one indicator of concern; food insecurity was most severe in Rif Damascus and the West Coast. Water was also a concern with 36% of households reporting inconsistent access and 48% no access to water for several day periods; water needs were highest in Aleppo.
Discussion. This assessment included accessible populations in predominantly urban and government controlled areas, which are likely to have better access to services and fewer needs than populations in rural locations or areas not controlled by the government. The humanitarian situation in inaccessible and non-government controlled areas is likely to be considerably worse, thus findings should not be generalized. An expanded humanitarian response is desperately needed for Syrians to better endure the conflict.
Introduction: In 2015, following an influx of population into Kobanê in northern Syria, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in collaboration with the Kobanê Health Administration (KHA) initiated primary healthcare activities. A vaccination coverage survey and vaccine-preventable disease (VPD) risk analysis were undertaken to clarify the VPD risk and vaccination needs. This was followed by a measles Supplementary Immunization Activity (SIA). We describe the methods and results used for this prioritisation activity around vaccination in Kobanê in 2015.
Methods: We implemented a pre-SIA survey in 135 randomly-selected households in Kobanê using a vaccination history questionnaire for all children <5 years. We conducted a VPD Risk Analysis using MSF ‘Preventive Vaccination in Humanitarian Emergencies’ guidance to prioritize antigens with the highest public health threat for mass vaccination activities. A Measles SIA was then implemented and followed by vaccine coverage survey in 282 randomly-selected households targeting children <5 years.
Results: The pre-SIA survey showed that 168/212 children (79.3%; 95%CI=72.7-84.6%) had received one vaccine or more in their lifetime. Forty-three children (20.3%; 95%CI: 15.1-26.6%) had received all vaccines due by their age; only one was <12 months old and this child had received all vaccinations outside of Syria. The VPD Risk Analysis prioritised measles, Haemophilus Influenza type B (Hib) and Pneumococcus vaccinations. In the measles SIA, 3410 children aged 6-59 months were vaccinated. The use of multiple small vaccination sites to reduce risks associated with crowds in this active conflict setting was noted as a lesson learnt. The post-SIA survey estimated 82% (95%CI: 76.9-85.9%; n=229/280) measles vaccination coverage in children 6-59 months.
Discussion: As a result of the conflict in Syria, the progressive collapse of the health care system in Kobanê has resulted in low vaccine coverage rates, particularly in younger age groups. The repeated displacements of the population, attacks on health institutions and exodus of healthcare workers, challenge the resumption of routine immunization in this conflict setting and limit the use of SIAs to ensure sustainable immunity to VPDs. We have shown that the risk for several VPDs in Kobanê remains high.
Conclusion: We call on all health actors and the international community to work towards re-establishment of routine immunisation activities as a priority to ensure that children who have had no access to vaccination in the last five years are adequately protected for VPDs as soon as possible.
INTRODUCTION In January 2011 landslides and floods followed heavy rain in the Mountainous Region of Rio de Janeiro State (“Região Serrana”), in southeastern Brazil. These events led to the largest disaster registered in Brazilian recent history. Few studies addressed the impacts of this disaster on public health, and we found none addressing the impact on mental health. This study reviewed the consequences of the 2011 disaster in the “Região Serrana”, by comparing the demand for public mental health assistance data from time periods before and after the even METHODS We performed an ecologic study, analysing the aggregate data from “Região Serrana” during the period two years before and after the disaster, exporting data from the Brazilian open access public health database. The primary outcome was defined as Mental Health Care Demand, and for that we calculated the number of mental health care visits per month, the proportion of visits due to mental health care and the monthly absolute number of mental health care visits per CAPS – “Centro de Atenção Psicossocial” (Psychosocial Care Centre). For secondary outcomes we evaluated the total number of deaths by any reason, and the total number of hospitalizations. The other health administrative regions of Rio de Janeiro state were used as control group. RESULTS We observed that there was an important increase in the rate of visits due to mental health in the six months after the landslides, from 13,875 to 17,690, reaching its maximum one year after the event totalizing 21,980 visits (Dec 2011). It was also observed that the proportion of visits due to mental health disorders increased after the event in the “Região Serrana”, as well as the number of mental health care visits per CAPS. DISCUSSION In conclusion, we observed that the 2011 Landslides in “Região Serrana” led to a sustained higher burden to public mental health care. There was an increase in the demand for mental health visits, and the ratio of visits per CAPS was higher during most part of the studied period after the event, even with the region having more CAPS than before.
Introduction: Maternal mortality rates can be adversely affected by armed conflict, implying a greater level of vulnerability among women, and is often linked to the lack of or limited access to maternal healthcare during conflict. Previous research in Uganda has shown that armed conflict negatively impacts women’s utilization of maternal healthcare services for a multitude of reasons at the individual, health-system and political levels.
Methods: This study compared aggregated Demographic and Health Surveys data from 13 districts in Northern Uganda, a conflict-affected region, with data from the rest of the country, for the use of maternal healthcare services for the years 1988, 1995, 2000, 2006 and 2011, using statistical analyses and logistic regression. Specific indicators for maternal healthcare utilization included contraceptive use, antenatal care, skilled assistance at birth and institutional delivery.
Results: Use of contraception and institutional deliveries among women in Northern Uganda was significantly lower compared to the rest of the country. However, skilled assistance at birth among women in Northern Uganda was significantly higher.
Conclusions: The findings in this study show that armed conflict can have a negative impact on aspects of maternal healthcare such as contraceptive use and institutional deliveries; however, other indicators such as skilled assistance at birth were seen to be better among conflict-affected populations. This reiterates the complex nature of armed conflict and the interplay of different factors such as conflict intensity, existing health systems and services, and humanitarian interventions that could influence maternal healthcare utilization.
Key words: Armed conflict, maternal health utilization, Northern Uganda, contraception, skilled assistance at birth, antenatal care, institutional delivery
Introduction: Disaster preparedness is defined as actions that ensure resources necessary to carry out an effective response are available before a disaster. Disaster preparedness requires a thorough understanding of the factors that influence performance or nonperformance of disaster preparedness behaviors (DPB). The major aim of this research was to further our understanding of DPB based on the theory of planned behavior (TPB).
Method: This was a cross-sectional study of factors determining of DPB in a representative sample of 1233 Tehran inhabitants. Measures derived from the TPB were obtained in the unprepared and prepared people.
Results: Consistent with the theory, intentions to do DPB could the person predicted from attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control with respect to DPB; and actually doing DPB was strongly related to intentions and perceptions of control assessed in the prepared people. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
Conclusion: An effective intervention will not only have to encourage people of the desirability of DPB, but also to provide them with the skills and means to do it. The more strongly they can be made to feel that they have control over DPB, the more likely they are to carry out their intentions. That is, heightened perceived control tends to strengthen people’s motivation to do DPB.
Key words: theory of planned behavior; disaster; preparedness
Introduction. Given the protracted nature of the crisis in Syria, national and international assistance agencies face immense challenges in providing for the needs of refugees and the host Lebanese due to the high burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) among both populations. These are complex conditions to manage, and the resources for refugee care limited, having dramatic implications for Lebanon’s health system.
Methods. A longitudinal cohort study was implemented from January 2015 through August 2016 to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment guidelines and an mHealth application on quality of care and health outcomes for patients in primary health care facilities in Lebanon serving Syrian refugees and host communities.
Results. Overall, reporting in clinic medical records remained low, however, during the mHealth phase recording of BMI and blood pressure were significantly greater in the mHealth application as compared to clinic medical records. Patient exit interviews reported a much more frequent measurement of weight, height, blood pressure, and blood glucose, suggesting these may be assessed more often than they are recorded. Satisfaction with the clinic visit improved significantly during implementation of the mHealth application as compared to both baseline and guidelines implementation in all measures. Despite positive changes, provider uptake of the application was low; patients indicated that the mHealth application was used in a minority (21.7%) of consultations. Provider perspectives on how the application changed patient interactions were mixed.
Discussion. Similar to previous evidence, this study further demonstrates the need to incorporate new interventions with existing practices and reporting requirements to minimize duplication of efforts and, consequently, strengthen provider usage. Additional research is needed to identify organizational and provider-side factors associated with uptake of similar applications, particularly in complex settings, to optimize the benefit of such tools.
Introduction: Globally, flooding is the most common of all natural disasters and drowning is the leading cause of death during floods. In Australia, rivers are the most common location of drowning and experience flooding on a regular basis.
Methods: A cross-sectional, total population audit of all known unintentional river flood related fatal drownings in Australia between 1-July-2002 and 30-June-2012 was conducted to identify trends and causal factors.
Results: There were 129 (16.8%) deaths involving river flooding, representing a crude drowning rate of 0.06 per 100,000 people per annum. Half (55.8%) were due to slow onset flooding, 27.1% flash flooding and the type of flooding was unknown in 17.1% of cases. Those at an increased risk were males, children, driving (non-aquatic transport) and victims who were swept away (p<0.01). When compared to drownings in major cities, people in remote and very remote locations were 79.6 and 229.1 times respectively more likely to drown in river floods. Common causal factors for falls into flooded rivers included being alone and a blood alcohol content ≥0.05% (for adults). Non-aquatic transport incident victims were commonly the drivers of four wheel drive vehicles and were alone in the car, whilst attempting to reach their own home or a friend’s.
Discussion: Flood related river drownings are preventable. Strategies for prevention must target causal factors such as being alone, influence of alcohol, type/size of vehicle, and intended destination. Strategies to be explored and evaluated include effective signage, early warning systems, alternate routes and public awareness for drivers.
Introduction: The city of Shizuoka directly faces the Nankai Trough (known for its tsunamigenic history), and is facing a potential tsunami threat. In this setting vertical evacuation can be of great significance in reducing loss of life.
Methods: We apply a GIS based method in order to identify sites that could be utilized for vertical evacuation within the existing building stock of the city, under two tsunami scenarios of 5 and 10 meters of run-up. For each building, we estimate the volume that is expected to be lost per scenario, as well as the number of people inside and how that number fluctuates over different times of the day.
Results: Using the criteria of 25% or less building volume loss and 6 cubic meters of volume per person, resulted in 2,046 potential sites for the 10 meter scenario and 1,643 potential sites for the 5 meter scenario, with the maximum amount of people that can potentially be accepted in these sites in the morning hours being 873,537 in the 10 meter scenario and 304,734 in the 5 meter scenario.
Discussion: Our approach has shown that there is a temporal aspect in tsunami vertical evacuation due to the movement of the local population throughout the day. the proposed method can be used for preliminary identification of potential vertical evacuation sites, however, it must be followed by further vulnerability and engineering assessments of buildings, in combination with accessibility and evacuation routing in order to reach a viable and complete evacuation plan.
Introduction: Industrial chemical accidents have been increased in developing countries. Assessing the human vulnerability in the residents of industrial areas is necessary for reducing the injuries and causalities of chemical hazards. The aim of this study was to explore the key indicators for the assessment of human vulnerability in the residents living near chemical installations.
Methods: The indicators were established in the present study based on the Fuzzy Delphi method (FDM) and Fuzzy Analytic Hierarchy Process (FAHP). The reliability of FDM and FAHP was calculated. The indicators of human vulnerability were explored in two sets of social and physical domains. Thirty-five relevant experts participated in this study during March-July 2015.
Results: According to experts, the top three indicators of human vulnerability according to the FDM and FAHP were vulnerable groups, population density, and awareness. Detailed sub-vulnerable groups and awareness were developed based on age, chronic or severe diseases, disability, first responders, and residents, respectively. Each indicator and sub-indicator was weighted and ranked and had an acceptable consistency ratio.
Conclusions: The importance of social vulnerability indicators are about 7 times more than physical vulnerability indicators. Among the extracted indicators, vulnerable groups had the highest weight and the greatest impact on human vulnerability. however, further research is needed to investigate the applicability of established indicators and generalizability of the results to other studies.
Key words: Fuzzy Delphi; Fuzzy AHP; Human vulnerability; Chemical hazards
Background: Small informal businesses make up the core markets for many poor urban communities, providing essential goods, services, and livelihoods. Many of these communities and businesses exist in hazardous locations. In most cases, these business owners do not have access to proper coping mechanisms including risk transfer and lack resilience to shocks. Access to risk-transfer in the form of insurance for these small businesses is extremely limited. This demand survey is the first phase of an intervention to test disaster microinsurance for these businesses. Previous research has examined the demand for and value of microinsurance to protect poor households but not micro- and medium-sized informal urban businesses.
Objective: This study investigates knowledge about and demand for microinsurance among small informal business owners in three different cities of India.
Methods: Survey of all informal business owners (n=4919) identified through purposive sampling of the most vulnerable in three proposed study sites: Guwahati in Assam (n=1622), Puri in Odisha (n=1551) and Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu (n=1746).
Results: Our findings reflect that while small business owners largely did not know about disaster microinsurance, after describing it, a vast majority wanted to subscribe to such a program. Without it, they often rely on personal savings, forgo basic necessities, or take out costly loans that trap them in debt to cope with disasters.
Discussion: This research supports the need for more experiments on actual adoption patterns, feasibility studies, and innovative trial programs by governments, non-governmental organizations, and insurance providers.
Purpose: The entire village of Iitate was contaminated by radioactive material from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant; even today, the residents remain evacuated. For the villagers, risk communication is an important element of recovery and maintaining health. This analysis focuses on the problem of radiation, presents results from a questionnaire of villagers, and examines methods for future risk communication activities.
Subjects and Methods: In May 2012, anonymous surveys were sent to 2914 heads of households whose addresses were registered in Iitate. Their understanding of radiation and information needs were extracted from the answers.
Results and Discussion: There were 1755 valid responses (61.4%). In relation to understanding, the most frequent answer was “There are numerous opinions and I do not know which one is true” (72.2%), followed by “I definitely want opportunities to learn more about how radiation is created” (41.6%). Residents felt that they could not determine which of the available information was reliable. The 60s+ age group responded more than younger age groups that “I do not have much information and do not know much about it,” “I do not know much about it, so I want to learn more,” and “I definitely want opportunities to learn more about how radiation is created.” Among information needs, “publications” (50.2%) and “community associations” (45.9%) received many responses; residents want study groups to be held at places and through media that give them regular opportunities to connect with each other. Residents in their 20s and 30s preferred “publications,” while those in their 40s, 50s, and 60s+ were more likely to request “community associations” and “resident meetings.” In addition, we found gender differences in both understanding and information needs. These results indicate that radiation and health risk communication should be addressed in a way that aligns with residents’ needs by age and gender.
Background: Government, industry and charitable organisations have an increasing focus on programs intended to support community resilience to disasters. But has consensus been reached as to what defines ‘community resilience’ and what its core characteristics are?
Methods: We undertook a systematic literature review of definitions of community resilience related to disasters. We conducted an inductive thematic analysis of the definitions and descriptions that we identified, in order to determine the proposed characteristics of community resilience prior to, during and after a disaster.
Results: We identified 80 relevant papers. There was no evidence of a common, agreed definition of community resilience. In spite of this, evidence was found of nine core elements of community resilience that were common among the definitions. The core elements were: local knowledge, community networks and relationships, communication, health, governance and leadership, resources, economic investment, preparedness, and mental outlook. Within these core elements, we identified 19 sub-elements linked to community resilience.
Conclusion: Our findings show that community resilience remains an amorphous concept that is understood and applied differently by different research groups. Yet in spite of the differences in conception and application, there are well-understood elements that are widely proposed as important for a resilient community. A focus on these individual elements may be more productive than attempting to define and study community resilience as a distinct concept.
Background: Women are more vulnerable than men in the same natural disaster setting. Preexisting gender inequality, socio-cultural community dynamics and poverty puts women at significant risk of mortality. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable because of their limited or no access to prenatal and obstetric care during any disaster or humanitarian emergency setting.
Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with 15 women who gave birth during the 2011 floods in Sindh Province, Pakistan. Thematic analysis explored women’s experiences of pregnancy and giving birth in natural disaster settings, the challenges they faced at this time and strategies they employed to cope with them.
Results: Women were not afforded any control over decisions about their health and safety during the floods. Decisions about the family’s relocation prior to and during the floods were made by male kin and women made no contribution to that decision making process. There were no skilled birth attendants, ambulances, birthing or breastfeeding stations and postnatal care for women in the relief camps. Women sought the assistance of the traditional birth attendants when they gave birth in unhygienic conditions in the camps.
Conclusion: The absence of skilled birth attendants and a clean physical space for childbirth put women and their newborn infants at risk of mortality. A clean physical space or birthing station with essential obstetric supplies managed by skilled birth attendants or community health workers can significantly reduce the risks of maternal morbidity and mortality in crisis situations.
Introduction: Disaster research entails several methodological challenges, given the context of a disaster. This article aims to describe and evaluate the use of Facebook as a tool to recruit participants for a self-selected Internet sample using a web-based survey in a post-disaster setting in the Philippines after the Haiyan typhoon hit parts of the country in November 2013.
Method: An invitation to a web-based survey about health was posted on several Facebook pages during a ten-day period.
Results: In total, 443 individuals who had survived the Haiyan typhoon participated in the study. The demographics of the study sample were similar to the general demographics in the Philippines, considering gender, age distribution and level of education.
Discussion: The study showed that the use of social media to recruit participants for disaster research could limit several of the practical and ethical challenges connected to disaster research. However, the method demands access to the Internet and requires several strategic considerations, particularly concerning non-probability sample biases and generalization as well as an active approach from the researcher.
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.
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: 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.
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.