Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief

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Care of Mentally or Physically Challenged Persons and the Elderly

In emergencies, the limited mobility of pregnant women, children, mentally or physically challenged persons, and the elderly mean that these groups are more at risk from natural phenomena. However, preparations to meet a possible disaster and the decisions made for the appropriate and timely protection of these groups before, during, and after such events can make the difference between safeguarding the lives and wellbeing of these groups, and exposing them to suffering further physical and emotional harm.


Recommendations for the Care of Children in Emergencies

During emergencies, the physical well-being and health of children are at greater risk due to the constraints on mobilizing them swiftly. However, preparations to meet a possible disaster and the decisions made for the proper and timely protection of children before, during, and after such an event can be decisive in safeguarding their health, and averting further suffering and physical or emotional harm.


Prevention and Control of Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Emergencies

During emergencies, changes in the behavior and emotional condition of people reflects the need to relieve tensions which build up while the emergency continues. Sexual gratification is a relatively common way for some adults to relieve stress. Studies show that at high levels of tension and anxiety, the search for sexual activity can become compulsive. This compulsion can even lead to acts of sexual aggression, directed chiefly against women, children, the elderly, and handicapped persons. It can occur in the home, in public, or in shelters or temporary refuges. There is the further consideration that regular measures for epidemiological control of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, and for the clinical management of AIDS cases, can be temporarily disrupted. Thus it is necessary to act swiftly and decisively to prevent the transmission of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS.


Recommendations for Contraceptive Care in Emergencies

Emergencies modify people's patterns of priorities and response; given a different set of stimuli, people tend to forget or suspend the use of protective measures such as contraceptives. Furthermore, the climate of emotional tension fosters physical closeness between people, increasing the vulnerability of women to sexual relations that are unwelcome, and unprotected against pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. Changes also occur in the way in which individual emotions and behavior are expressed, often manifested in frustration and anguish which, among other consequences, can spark acts of physical aggression that are sometimes manifested in sexual acts, chiefly against women.


Recommendations for Prenatal Care and Delivery Care in Emergencies

During emergencies it is particularly important to consider the prevention of pregnancy complications and to avoid childbirth in unsafe conditions that could lead to disease or death in women of childbearing age. This holds true both during the immediate emergency phase, and the aftermath.


General Recommendations for the Population During Emergencies

The extent of damage to people's health as a result of emergencies is directly linked to the preparations to handle foreseeable risks made by individuals, families, and communities. The recommendations submitted below seek to promote activities which make people aware of the fact that an emergency can occur at any time, and that it is therefore necessary to take preventive measures in order to minimize the immediate negative impact of such events.


Groups With Special Needs

One can never be too prepared for an emergency. This is particularly true insofar as concerns pregnant women, children, physically and mentally challenged persons, and the elderly. However, preparations to face a potential disaster and the decisions made for the appropriate and timely protection of these groups before, during and after such events may well make the difference between safeguarding the lives and wellbeing of this population group, or exposing them to further physical and emotional damage.


Volcanic Eruptions

There is volcanic activity in several countries of the Americas, threatening health on their surrounding populations. Since each volcanic eruption is physically different, each differs in its resulting effect on health.

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