Challenges and Road Ahead

Speech delivered by Lt Gen (Dr) JR Bhardwaj (Rtd), PVSM AVSM VSM PHS MD DCP PhD FICP FAMS FRC(Path) at VIF’s seminar on ‘Disaster Risk Reduction : An Important Route to Poverty Alleviation with Special Reference to Health, Nutrition and Other Human Factors’ – 24thNovember , 2011 New Delhi India

  1. Introduction

    Community’s own capacities an capabilities is an important factor in management of any Disaster. Poor People as such are already in compromised state as regards their access to resources, state of health, awareness and education. Some of the others important risk factors that exists with the poverty are overcrowding in there habitats, poor sanitation and hygiene and malnutrition which make them more vulnerable during Disaster resulting into increased vulnerability to poverty. Hence all Disaster Risk Reduction activities should be included an integrated in the development plans and programs for Health Nutrition and Poverty alleviation.

  2. Disasters and Health

    All the Disasters, both natural and manmade, result into injuries, death, diseases, Psycho social trauma, Immediate and Long term effects, in large number in the affected community. These will result in lose of livelihood and opportunities. Sort and long term effect of disasters on health of the affected community usually results in delayed Recovery and Re-habitation both physically and financially. Hence disaster risk deduction activities in the pre disaster phase aiming act mitigating health related vulnerable factor will certainly reduce impact of disasters. Special attention should be drawn to the Vulnerable group of the community, which include all people, women, children and those suffering from HIV-AIDS and chronic disabling diseases, if not attended may enhance the vulnerability of affected population.

  3. Poverty and Health

    It is very difficult to define Poverty. It is not purely money based. The factors responsible for it are multi layered. Some of the important factor are

    a. Economic
    b. Political
    c. Socio Cultural
    d. Human

    Human factors are related to health, nutrition, health education and awareness. The poor people, who are usually deprived of above are the subjects, are more vulnerable to effect of disasters. It is a known fact that those who are malnourished have lower Immunity and are prone to both infectious and non infectious diseases because of there over crowded habitats and poor sanitation and hygiene.

    During disaster the poor people usually have little access to the relief resources hence these very people suffer the most from diseases, under nutrition and infections. They may act as the focus for an Epidemics. Poor will become poorer as they loose their livelihood, jobs and opportunities. Health and human related vulnerable factors, if mitigated in the pre disaster phase, will reduce the impact of disaster on Health and Economy there by helping in poverty alleviation. .

  4. Strategies for Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness for Human Health and Nutrition related Factors

    Vulnerability is center staged both for Disaster risk reduction and Poverty alleviation. Therefore it is essential to adopt such strategies which aim to address the both. Health and Nutrition are the most important vulnerable factors which need to be addressed and hand in hand for Disaster mitigation and Poverty alleviation. Therefore Disaster risk management strategies should be integrated into all programs and projects aiming to alleviate poverty and vice versa. Government runs many livelihood and health programs for poverty alleviations. Disaster risk reduction measures must be integrated in all such programs. Some of the important measures that must be incorporated and integrated are:

    I. Awareness

    Awareness should be created to the people of the relevant knowledge using various tools and agencies. This can be done through networking of various institutions and resources persons, integration of community based best practices, involvement of decision maker of all levels, public private participation and international co-operations.

    II. Integration of Disaster risk reduction strategies into Health, Nutrition and sustainable Livelihood programs.

    There are number of health related National programs like National Rural Health Mission, various immunization program, Food Security and supply of safe drinking water. It also essential to develop National immunization policy and policy for Infectious diseases keeping the vulnerable factors in view during disasters. Food programs should addressed the advance stocking of food in disaster prone areas and strategies to maintain food supply chain. This not only should address the calorific requirement but also the vitamins and mineral supplements specially for the vulnerable group. Risk Reduction activities for all the risk factors including the Psycho Social trauma that may exist during disasters should be integrated into such programs hence will reduce vulnerability.

    III. Developing capacities and capabilities in the Health sector

    Poor Health infrastructure specially in the rural and remote areas and lack of training of doctors, para medicals and nurses for basic and Advanced life support and advance Trauma life support are some of there weaker areas in the Health sector. These concerns should be addressed and be included in various health related programs. This is best done by integrating Health related disaster risk reduction strategies into National and State developmental plans in the Country.

    IV. Vulnerable Groups

    Special attention should paid to vulnerable section of population as already defined these people have higher degree of Physical, Social, Economic and Environmental vulnerabilities. All disaster risk reduction activities should address their subjects on priority.

    V. International co-operations

    WHO plays a vital role in health sector in various health programs across the globe. Under International Health Regulation 2006, member countries can avail and share resources and scientific expertise during various Epidemic, Pandemic and various Health programs. Necessary help can be obtained from other countries through WHO for our programs wherever felt necessary. .

  5. Summary

    Deficiencies in Human, Health and Nutrition sector enhance the vulnerability during disaster causing lose of life disablement and Psycho Social trauma which results in the lose of livelihood, opportunities and aggravation of poverty. These vulnerable factors are important and common both for disaster risk reduction and poverty alleviations. Disaster risk reduction strategies for above vulnerabilities, if integrated into various developmental plans and programs, will be an important route to reduce vulnerability and poverty. .

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