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Education and disaster risk reduction

Publication date:
G. Seynaeve
Type of publication:

Preparedness is crucial to reducing the impact of events and hazards that have the potential of resulting in disaster. Education and training are likely to improve the multi-disciplinary health response to major events that threaten the health status of communities. The editorial endeavours to answer questions pertaining to:

the possibility of integrating core competencies of disaster medicine into the curriculum of health professionals
generic or specific disaster-type-related competencies that can be incorporated into medical education
knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to enable competent practices in the eventual disaster situation identification and setting priorities
the source of expertise and funding and the kind of teaching methods and acquisition tools to be used.

The paper makes the following formal recommendations:

the field of Disaster Medicine should cover the multidisciplinary health response to major events that threaten the health status of a community
adequate management of major disasters should consider (re)actions of people affected, civil society, and communities
an adequate response to major incidents must be well-prepared, sustained and evaluated
categorisation of disasters should be based on various theoretical criteria or ranking according to the scale of the event
a pragmatic, all-hazard, core preparedness based on a systematic health needs assessment, allows for flexible and dynamic health responses
an adequate health response to disasters must include psychosocial support for the people affected and responders
disasters require extraordinary competencies, skills, and attitudes, and thus, specific education and training
mass emergencies must be dealt with by specialised material and teams, combined with the more efficient use of the available resources
public health crises require surveillance for early detection and warning, timely and adequate exchange of information and communication, extraordinary decision-making, and control strategies, as well as follow-up research and structural measures
initiatives that improve international and interdisciplinary cooperation in the field of disaster health, stimulate exchanges of experiences, and foster a collaborative network of Centres of Excellence in research and education.

The paper concludes that in cases of complex emergencies and disasters, offering adequate resources and logistic support for local health professionals in developing countries becomes urgent.