Targeted health relief efforts are a must in the event of a disaster

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

The programmes should be in place even before any calamity strikes, as part of the risk management plan

New Delhi, 12th December 2018: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), natural disasters claim about 90,000 lives every year and affect close to 160 million people worldwide. The aftermath of these disasters is often outbreak of various diseases. Disease surveillance should therefore become an important part of disaster risk management efforts.

The WHO indicates broadening the scope “from response and recovery to a more proactive approach which emphasizes prevention and mitigation, and the development of community and country capacities to provide timely and effective response and recovery.” In light of the recent cyclone Gaja and its aftermath, the indication is that a resilient health system is indispensable.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Disasters have a significant impact on not only the lives of people and their belongings but also their health. It therefore becomes imperative to ramp up health and sanitation efforts after any such occurrence given the fact that there can be an outbreak of several illnesses. Water- and vector-borne diseases are of particular concern in the event of a cyclone and flood. Some of the most common ones include cholera, typhoid, jaundice, and leptospirosis apart from dengue and malaria. Overcrowding in relief centres can increase the likelihood of communicable infections such as measles in children.”

From a medical standpoint, disaster situations are characterized by an acute and unforeseen imbalance between resources and the capacity of medical professionals, as well as the needs of survivors who are injured whose health is threatened, over a given period of time.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-chief of IJCP, said, “Disasters require multifaceted responses involving many different types of relief ranging from transportation and food supplies to medical services. Such operations need an effective and centralized authority to coordinate public and private efforts. Rescue workers and physicians are confronted with exceptional circumstances, requiring professional and ethical standard of care. This will ensure that the treatment of survivors conforms to basic ethical tenets and is not influenced by other motivations.”

Modern medicine mainly takes care of the particle part of the body. The manifest part of the mind is covered in the subject of psychiatry taught over only a few classes during MBBS. Nature is made up of five elements – air, space, water, fire and earth. These five elements must be in a balanced state. Any disturbance of these five elements will result in natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides, floods, forest fire, storms etc. Naturopathy or nature cure uses these five elements in wellness. It balances these five elements and using them as a part of therapy.