Guidelines for a Composite, Long-term Disaster Health Plan

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While drawing up a mitigation plan for disaster related health problems, it should be ensured that the community for which the planning is being carried out becomes equal partner right from the inception stage. Failing the involvement of the population at risk, the plan, howsoever efficient would not succeed.

The plan should be as composite as possible. All related sectors must be involved, represented and participated. The plan should be necessarily a long-team plan. Some suggested guidelines for a long-term plan are given below:

Guidelines for a Composite, Long-term Disaster Health Plan

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A composite plan for mitigation of medical and health related problems arising out of any natural disaster should cover the following broad heading:

Community profile;

Plan of action;

Resource planning;

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Training plan;

Allied planning;

Periodical practice

Post practice evaluation of plan and consequent modification thereof; and Collaboration and coordination with allied agencies and neighborhood areas.

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The information to be included under each of the above mentioned headings of the long-term plan for a community are listed below:

Community Profile

Community Database, which should include the total population and the vulnerable population in view. Likewise, the age distribution, sex distribution, the socio-economical, educational and cultural distribution in the population/community is to be considered. The cattle and pet population also should be documented.

Disaster Scenario describing the incidence, periodicity, magnitude, epicenters and vulnerable areas.

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Population at Rick highlighting the age distribution of the population at risk, the incidence and mortality rate of the vulnerable population.

Disease Profile giving the endemic and other likely diseases, past history of disease breakout or aggravation in the wake of disasters.

Plan of Action

Prevention of Risk by the provision and monitoring of basic immunization, prevention of epidemics by specific immunization, water and food sanitation, prevention of the break of communicable diseases, prevention of mosquito and fly infestation.

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Promotion of Health by way of nutritional intervention, environmental hygienic, maternal care, infant and childcare, and geriatric care.

Specific treatment, which includes the early diagnosis and treatment of the primary cases, chronic and acute cases.

Medical Rehabilitation including the medical, psychological and social set up the affected population and vulnerable groups.

Disposal of the dead. This is a sensitive task. Due care needs to be taken to protect the dignity of the dead and the sentiments of the community.

Resource Planning

Health manpower resource planning such as the availability of doctors, nurse, paramedical staff and above all, able bodies volunteers.

Medical stores & equipment such as drugs, medical and surgical appliances, diagnostic aids, sterilization equipments, etc.

Logical requirements such as fuel and oil, lighting equipments, tents, beds or floor covering linen, pillows and mattresses, materials for cleaning and sanitation, storage equipment like ration, water, buckets, mugs.

Ambulances

Medical facilities such as primary health centre, hospitals, nursing homes, mobile centers etc.

Food and water including cooking and heating arrangements.

Training Plan

Training of the manpower such as doctors, nurses, paramedics, and attendance.

Administrators and other related sectors including block development officers, police, fire and civil defense personnel, village pramukhs, administrators at all levels.

Health education to the population at risk, schoolteachers, women folk and local volunteers.

Allied Planning

Available local administrative support (municipal, panchayat);

Involvement of NGO’s and voluntary groups;

Commitment and allocation of funds;

Involvement of educational institutions, industrial establishments, banks locally and nearby;

Formation of area level functional bodies and earmarking of their specific tasks and responsibilities;

Establishment of communication channels;

Establishment of alternate sources of energy;

Cooperation of media for publicity and promotion of public awareness;

Plan for rehabilitation;

Periodical practice of the long-term plan. Periodical practice drills should be an essential feature of the plan;

Post practice evaluation of plan and consequent modifications thereof. This will ensure that the plan is always ready for implementation at short notice.

Collaboration and coordination with allied agencies, and neighborhood areas. This is essential in case where the impact of disaster is severe enough to disable the local arrangements and immediate assistance from neighborhood areas in required.

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