The effects of a natural disaster in countries with a poorly developed health infrastructure are devastating. Although foreign aid may be forthcoming, the traditional health system response to natural disasters generally focus on surgical intervention and is often short lived. Following a natural disaster, individuals incur functional impairments, disabilities and mental health conditions that require an expert in diagnosis and treatment in rehabilitative measures. Currently there is a lack of trained rehabilitation responders as well as a lack of medical recordkeeping, data collection, and established outcome measures. LifeAbove’s ministry is to show Christ love through aviation, medicine and counseling by providing humanitarian aid to areas affected by natural disaster and/or have a lack of rehabilitative resources.
Natural disasters are defined as a ‘sudden ecological disruption or threat that exceeds the adjustment capacity of the affected community and requires external assistance. Natural disasters include earthquakes, floods, tidalwaves (tsunamis), landslides, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, as well as droughts. According to the Annual Disaster Statistical Review 2009, published by the International Disaster Database (EM-DAT), there has been an average of 392 natural disasters that occurred around the world each year from 2000-2008 and every year natural disaster effect approximately 230.8 million people.
Natural disasters result in immediate, significant loss of life and long-term physical impairments such as spinal cord injuries (SCI), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), amputations, fractures, musculoskeletal strains and pain, peripheral nerve injuries and broken bones. Rehabilitation programs therefore need to be started as soon as possible to minimize the societal impact on the community to help members become productive and help with re-build efforts. Rehabilitation efforts that start too late can lead to severe and long lasting disabilities which can result into unnecessary deaths.
◗ Earthquakes in Republic of China from 2000-2009 has injured 387,829 people and killed 87,947 people.
◗ Earthquake in Haiti in 2010 injured approximately 300,000 people and killed 316,000 people.
◗ Japan earthquake and tsunami injured 5,893 people and killed 15,844 people.
◗ Flood in Pakistan resulted in 2,327 injuries and 2,021 deaths.
◗ A report issued by the International Development ministry reports roughy 375 million will be affected by climate-related disasters every year, which is well above the 263 million impacted by natural disasters in 2010.
LifeAbove has identified 10 key areas that our ministry will address.
1. Traditional health system response to natural disasters largely neglect health related rehabilitation as a strategic intervention due to surgical bias of responding teams and general lack of rehabilitative knowledge of team members.
2. Lack of health related rehabilitation in natural disaster relief may result in additional burdening in the health system capacity, exacerbating baseline weak rehabilitation and health system infrastructure.
3. There is a lack of trained rehabilitation responders as well as a lack of medical record-keeping, data collection, and established outcome measures.
4. Post natural disaster rehabilitation counselors for mental health conditions, such as situational anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder, are almost nonexistent.
5. Individuals with pre-existing physical disabilities and those with chronic physical and mental health conditions as well as very young and old people are at increased risk for suffering additional conditions and/or diseases as a result of natural disasters.
6. Post natural disaster lacks education for the community/victims during re-build that include accessibility for those with disabilities and how to plan to respond to those needs.
7. The lack or nonexistence of rehabilitative systems prenatural disasters can further burden an already challenged health system.
8. There is a shortage of properly qualified rehabilitation teams that are deployment ready, travel arranged and on scene with an assignment confirmed by the host country.
9. Education is needed for cultures that believe or view disability as a static rather than a dynamic condition. Disability in low resourced countries are believed that individuals will be an object of charity their entire life or it is believed disabilities are contagious and therefore can affect an entire family.
10. First responders work continuously in effort to aid others in need. Rehabilitative services to those in response are highly needed in order to be effective in rescue efforts and to minimize long-term injuries.