|Natural Disasters: Some Aspects of the International Experience (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, 1982, 10 p.)|
There is something new about disasters and public health. Over the last ten years, the number of seminars or conferences on the topic has not only drastically increased, but the initial idea of a few researchers concerned with public health has nowadays become widely accepted by many who bear decision-making responsibilities in the health sector: Effective disaster relief depends on sound preparation, just as prevention or alleviation of the effects of future disasters depend on experience gained during earlier ones (8). Although disaster research is a newly developed discipline, it is important to recognize that lessons can be learned and that knowledge is paying off.
I have been asked to touch briefly upon some aspects of the international experience. Starting with a working definition of a disaster and using the classical phases of a disaster as a frame I would like to give only some examples of how quantified information can be of value in planning preventive and relief measures and in evaluating their effectiveness. Examples will be limited to earthquakes.