Student Section

Impacts of Disaster on Health

April 4, 2013

The nature and extent of climatic changes not only hinders human development and environmental conservation, but also forms a major threat to human health. Globally, approximately 2 billion people were affected by natural or technological disasters in the period of 1990–1999, with almost 600 000 fatalities. More than 86% of people killed by disasters during this period succumbed to natural events. Windstorms claimed the largest proportion of lives (35%) while floods accounted for the largest proportion of people affected (75%). Women comprise 70% of those living below the poverty line. As a result, they are most likely to bear the heaviest burdens when natural disasters strike. At the same time, women are more often overlooked as potential contributors to climate change solutions, and thus to the security of all human beings.  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PRSD) and major depression were also common in the affected area. Sleep disturbance and other reactions to severe stress are more common among the children. Psychosocial and mental health problems are particularly important for low income countries, which face a high burden of illness due to infectious disease, greater socio-economic disparities, and have limited resources for mental health care.  The psychosocial and mental health impacts of these disasters have been exacerbated by the multiple losses due to disaster and subsequent stressful life events and consequent uncertainty of the future. Inadequate number of mental health professionals in the country and their unavailability of data-base of their place of residence also realized as a major hindrance in providing mental health service provisions recognizing the importance of mental health problems in the affected area the following aspects should be taken into account. A clear set of strategies and line of command for management of psychosocial care and mental health programs in the disaster situations are urgently needed.

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