Public Health Professionals’ Emergency Preparedness and Response

Public health services are an integral part of the homeland security sector responsible for the well-being of the individuals at times of an emergency. In recent years, the quantity of natural and man-caused disasters has considerably risen; correspondingly, the demand for the rapid and efficient response to them of public health professionals has also become indispensable. The evolving role of wellness practitioners in reacting to an emergency circumstance resembles the increasing need for them to be alert and prepared to quickly act upon such disasters. Therefore, the paper will be focused on identifying and discussing key synergy areas between public health and disaster risk management outlined by the United Nations.

Five Key Areas of Synergy Between Public Health and Disaster Risk Management

The Public Health system is responsible for providing suitable conditions for inhabitants’ wellness while assuring the ability of all people to have access to proper medical care. Among these primary functions of public health, disaster risk management also plays a significant role, as when crises arise, the healthcare system must be able to adequately counter and respond to them. For that reason, the World Health Organization (WHO) compiled a list of areas where public health has the potential to contribute to the prevention of disasters, where each will be further discussed in details:

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  1. The health systems approach;
  2. Risk assessments;
  3. WHO/UNISDR/HPA disaster risk management fact sheets;
  4. Chronic disease and disasters;
  5. Mental health impacts following disasters (Murray et al., 2015).

Discussion of the Five Areas and the Synergy Between Them

The Health Systems Approach

The increasing occurrences of the destructive conditions make disaster management a global issue that encourages each country to advance its preparedness and quality of the vitality sector. Due to such unfavorable worldwide circumstances, the WHO passed a resolution on the World Health Assembly in 2011 aimed at strengthening health emergency management capacities and the resilience of the wellness system (Murray et al., 2015). Such a measure was adopted as a step to improve the countries’ crisis preparedness and enhance their catastrophe risk management, regarding the increasing threat of disasters to the population.

A specifically designed toolkit by the WHO is entailed to guide the countries on their path to improving hazard danger administration, which subsequently strengthens their health system. Numerous implementation of the toolkit has proved its effectiveness in disastrous situations, where it notably enhanced and fastened the resolution of the issues. Nevertheless, the empiric research of danger and extreme events prediction is predominantly poor and must be addressed to prevent and mitigate the future influence of distress on global health practice.

Risk Assessments

Risk assessment is a fundamental tool for informing the population of any potential danger to their well-being. The hazard evaluation level in a country is influenced by multiple constituents such as financial and technical capabilities and even cultural peculiarities that correspond with particular danger tolerance. Risk modeling is confirmed by the European Commission to be a practical tool for hazard estimation and forecasting. Such a strategy can aid in identifying vulnerabilities of the land, based on its previous disasters, subsequently reducing the chances of extreme disruption in the future. Moreover, the necessity to recognize inclusion is requisite for risk assessment to guarantee equal treatment of all in case of emergencies.

To contribute to the rising problem of climate change-caused collisions, the European Commission has developed a cross-sectional overview of potential hazards facing the continent. The document directly conduces to the crisis planning for the countries, through a fundamental evaluation of disaster risk based on complex constituents like landscapes and previous accident inclines (European Commission, 2017). Multiple other European countries elaborated danger management programs that provide necessary data and services in case of precarious emergencies, including public health risks like pandemics. Such strategies became vital in the recent light of the emerged virus, which is still affecting the world.

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WHO/UNISDR/HPA Disaster Risk Management Fact Sheets

Disasters often cause significant negative repercussions on the lives of its victims, particularly on their health status. To prevent and ease the influence of hazards, WHO, the Health Protection Agency (HPA), and Public Health England (PHE) developed multiple fact sheets focused on catastrophe risk management in terms of well-being. Such materials were primarily compiled for health practitioners, who are frequently included in critical circumstances and require uncertainty administration (Murray et al., 2015). Moreover, entrepreneurs of various industries may use these fact sheets to integrate wellness into their risk control strategies.

The documents are initially intended to be used as a set, each identifying a specific key point as a part of a risk management strategy for the health sector. Through brief, easy-to-comprehend articles, the authors provide fundamental knowledge concerning the reasons for implementing health factors as an indispensable part of hazard management. In addition, public health communities may find these health supervision guides useful as a source of an enlightening resource. The outline of the actual healthcare issues during emergencies may help healthcare facilities apply corresponding measures to eliminate the obstacles in case of contingencies.

Chronic Disease and Disasters

People with chronic diseases are in increased risk zone at times of hazards due to their exceptional health requirements. For that reason, the European Commission believes that specific policies and guidelines must be outlined in the disaster management plans (Murray et al., 2015). The research confirmed that most patients with persistent conditions frequently misplace their insurance, vital medication, and prescriptions during the imminent perils (Murray et al., 2015). Considering such a critical matter, public health professionals must be better equipped for relative cases, ready to prevent unfavorable outcomes, and help people suffering from severe illnesses. Similar practices must be executed among mentally ill people, as distress may significantly affect their state of mind, requiring urgent management.

Mental Health Impacts Following Disasters

The vital need for psychological support enhancement is a crucial part of recovering from the catastrophic events outlined by the United Nations. Extreme events have a disruptive effect on people and their families, frequently due to its unexpected and massive impact. These occurrences do not allow people with unstable mental conditions to adequately react and respond to the emergencies, most of the time requiring professional help as an addition to the support from the closest people.

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The report outlines primary and secondary stressors that may cause both long a short-term impact on the character of the individual. Research has consistently demonstrated that specific risk factors are associated with increased vulnerability to mental health conditions following natural disasters (Hrabok et al., 2020). The presence of such features requires public health professionals to clearly distinguish the details of the consequences the hazards have caused by enhancing their knowledge to improve further outcomes.

The Synergy Between Five Key Areas

The five key areas of disaster risk management may seem conventional and unconnected at first. However, they interrelate and, with the successful implementation of all aspects, provide a consistent, prosperous plan for the public health sector, for feasible reactions to emergencies. To some extent, the fundamental measures demonstrate a step-by-step guide for countries for compiling an effective risk management plan vital for each nation. The concept of the health system approach provides opportunities for further attainable development of danger evaluation.

Based on the data from the assessment and the provided by the global health organizations fact sheets, the government may compile policies and strategies for the public health practitioners that will aid in the management of disasters. The recommendation regarding people with chronic and mental diseases plays a vital role in establishing lacking guidelines for medical professionals. Therefore, the synergy of the five key areas is undeniable, providing a detailed guide of measures for the public health sector in establishing a powerful model of preparedness for emergency circumstances.

The Impact of Preparedness in These Areas on Response Efforts in the Event of a Disaster

Multiple global organizations like the United Nations, World Health Organizations, and more regularly procure vital information for health practitioners to improve their acquaintance either in their professional fields or general self-development erudition. Disastrous events may occur unexpectedly, and as wellness providers, they must be able to quickly and expertly respond to them. These international reports and fact sheets can significantly affect the professional abilities and perception of certain health issues.

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With the help of vast awareness of the five key areas of synergy between public health and disaster risk management, the healthcare industry and the countries will advance the delivery of their services and increase the skills of their workers. Subsequently, the combination of these outcomes will enhance the overall risk management strategy of the particular country and intensify the role of the public health sector.

References

European Commission. (2017). Commission staff working document: Overview of natural and man-made disaster risks the European Union may face [PDF]. Web.

Hrabok, M., Delorme, A., & Agyapong, V. I. O. (2020). Threats to Mental Health and Well-Being Associated with Climate Change. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 76, 102295. Web.

Murray, V., Aitsi-Selmi, A., & Blanchard, K. (2015). The role of public health within the United Nations post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction. International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, 6(1), 28–37. Web.‌

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