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Management of Disaster – Medical | Merofuture

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The World Health Organization defines it as “a sudden ecologic phenomenon of sufficient magnitude to require external assistance.”

Disasters are exceptional events which suddenly kill or injures large number of people. -Red Cross


There is no country that is immune from disaster, though vulnerability to disaster varies. There are four main types of disaster.

  • Natural disasters. These disasters include floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcano eruptions that can have immediate impacts on human health, as well as secondary impacts causing further death and suffering from floods causing landslides, earthquakes resulting in fires, tsunamis causing widespread flooding and typhoons sinking ferries
  • Environmental emergencies. There emergencies include technological or industrial accidents, usually involving hazardous material, and occur where these materials are produced, used or transported. Large forest fires are generally included in this definition because they tend to be caused by humans.
  • Complex emergencies. These emergencies involve a break-down of authority, looting and attacks on strategic installations. Complex emergencies include conflict situations and war.
  • Pandemic emergencies. These emergencies involve a sudden onset of a contagious disease that affects health but also disrupts services and business, bringing economic and social costs.


Any disaster can interrupt essential services, such as the provision of health care, electricity, water, sewage/garbage removal, transportation and communication. The interruption can seriously affect the health, social and economic networks of local communities and countries. Disasters have a major and long-lasting impact on people long after the immediate effect has been mitigated. Poorly planned relief activities can have a significant negative impact not only on the disaster victims but also on donors and relief agencies. So it is important that physical therapists join established programmes rather than attempting individual efforts.

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