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.
Objectives: There is limited evidence on urban Asian communities’ disaster risk perceptions and household level preparedness. Hong Kong is characterized by high population density, and is susceptible to large-scale natural disasters and health crises such as typhoons, fires and infectious disease outbreaks. This research paper investigates the rates and predictors of urban community disaster risk perception, awareness and preparedness, at individual and household levels.
Methods: A randomized cross-sectional, population-based telephone survey study was conducted among the Cantonese-speaking population aged over 15 years in Hong Kong. Descriptive statistics were reported. A stepwise multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to determine the independent associations between risk perceptions, socioeconomic factors, household characteristics, and personal background.
Findings: Final study sample comprised of 1002 respondents with a 63% response rate. The majority of respondents (82.3%) did not perceive Hong Kong as a disaster-susceptible city. Half (54.6%) reported beliefs that the local population had lower disaster awareness than other global cities. Infectious disease outbreak (72.4%), typhoon (12.6%), and fire (7.1%) were ranked as the most-likely-to-occur population-based disasters. Although over 77% believed that basic first aid training was necessary for improving individual disaster preparedness, only a quarter (26.1%) of respondents reported participation in training.
Conclusion: Despite Hong Kong’s high level of risk, general public perceptions of disaster in Hong Kong were low, and little preparedness has occurred at the individual or household levels. This report has potential to inform the development of related policies and risk communication strategies in Asian urban cities.