Cover Image
close this bookCoping with Natural Disasters: The Role of Local Health Personnel and the Community (WHO, 1989, 99 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentIntroduction: An active role for communities and their health personnel
close this folderPart I: The disaster
View the document(introduction...)
close this folderChapter 1: Community rescue operations
View the documentFear
View the documentPanic
View the documentRescue operations
View the documentReception at the health centre or hospital
close this folderChapter 2: The tasks of the local health personnel
View the documentOrganizing the health centre or hospital to meet the emergency
View the documentTriage
View the documentEmergency care
close this folderPart II: The aftermath
View the document(introduction...)
close this folderChapter 3: Action by the community
View the documentThe coordination committee
View the documentAssessment of requirements
View the documentOutside assistance
View the documentCoordination of groups from outside
View the documentFamily groupings
View the documentTemporary shelter and sanitation
View the documentDisplaced persons
View the documentMonitoring food supplies
View the documentFood distribution
View the documentDealing with the dead
View the documentDealing with animals
View the documentPost-disaster development
close this folderChapter 4: Action by the local health personnel
View the documentPost-disaster health problems and the organization of the local health personnel
View the documentMonitoring the community's health status
View the documentVaccinations
View the documentNutrition
View the documentHealth education and sanitation
View the documentMental health
View the documentVulnerable groups
View the documentPeriodic reports by the local health personnel
close this folderPart III: Preventing and alleviating the consequences of disasters
View the document(introduction...)
close this folderChapter 5: Action by the community
View the documentAnalysis of past experience
View the documentInformation on disasters
View the documentSome information on natural disasters
View the documentKnowledge of the risks and the resources
View the documentEvacuation of the population
View the documentTwinning
View the documentExercises and activities to promote community preparedness
View the documentBasic education
close this folderChapter 6: Action by the local health personnel
View the documentEssential professional qualities of local health personnel for coping with disasters
View the documentImproving certain professional skills
View the documentPreparation of the health centre or hospital
View the documentThe training of voluntary health workers
View the documentPreparedness activities for the population
close this folderAnnexes
View the documentAnnex 1: Diseases to be monitored when people are housed in temporary shelters
View the documentAnnex 2: Specimen record card for use by person in charge of family grouping in preparing health report in collaboration with local health personnel
close this folderAnnex 3: Nutrition
View the documentRecommended daily energy and protein intakes for healthy individuals
View the documentWeight-for-height
View the documentArm-circumference-for-height, young children (both sexes)
View the documentIndicators of likely need for a supplementary feeding programme (SFP)
View the documentAnnex 4: What to do in an earthquake
View the documentAnnex 5: Mercalli scale of earthquake intensities (ms)
View the documentAnnex 6: Community risk maps
View the documentAnnex 7: The signs of danger in disaster-damaged buildings
View the documentAnnex 8: Resource maps
View the documentAnnex 9: Medical equipment of the health centre or hospital for coping with a disaster
close this folderAnnex 10: Outline schedules for self-evaluation in the event of disaster
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSelf-evaluation schedule for action taken by the community
View the documentSelf-evaluation schedule for action by the local health personnel
View the documentAnnex 11: The league of red cross and red crescent societies (LORCS)
View the documentAnnex 12: A short reading list for local health personnel


This publication without the valuable assistance of Dr Luciano Carrino, Health Department, Cooperation in Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy, who drafted and reviewed the various versions. Dr S. William Gunn launched the publication when he was in charge of WHO's Emergency Relief Operations (1977-1984); he also reviewed the final text in his capacity of Scientific Vice-President of the European Centre for Disaster Medicine.

WHO also wishes to thank Ferruccio Ferrigni and Patrick de Maisonneuve for their contributions on architecture and town planning; Teresa Volpe who prepared the original drawings; Giulia Dario for her advice on community action; Guido Bertolaso, Marta di Gennaro, Guglielmo Riva, Enzo Lucchetti, Carol Djeddah, Agostino Miozo, Giancarlo Samaritan and the health team of the Department for Cooperation in Development of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for information and documentation on emergency health action; Adriano Mantovani for his contribution on veterinary medicine; Josuis Zeballos, Dorothy Blake, Jose Maria Paganini, Marc Parent, Don Washington, Luis Jorge Perez, Carmen BowenWright, Miguel Gueri; the University of Louvain's Disaster Epidemiology Team led by Michel Lechat; the participants in the WHO meetings on health activities in the event of disasters held in Rabat (1981), Trieste (1984), Ankara (1985), Brazzaville (1986) and Marrakesh (1986); and all the other experts consulted.

Thanks also go to the teams in health centres/local hospitals at Giugliano (Italy), Ayapel (Colombia), Port Antonio (Jamaica) and Dire (Mali) who allowed us to field-test various parts of this manual.

Finally, acknowledgements are also due to the Campania Region and to the International Centre for Research-Intervention in Naples, which provided organizational support.

The following members of staff of WHO and the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (LORCS) also collaborated in this publication: Thomas Bergmann (LORCS), Claude de Ville de Goyet (WHO/Pan American Health Organization), Olavi Elo (WHO), Concetto Guttuso (WHO), John Jones (WHO), Andrei Kisselev (LORCS), Sten Kistner (LORCS) and Michael Tailhades (LORCS).

This Guide is in three parts:

· The first part deals with rescue work and emergency care immediately after the disaster has struck.

· The second deals with action taken when the acute period of the disaster is over.

· The third describes what can be done at local level to prevent and mitigate the consequences of disasters.

Each part consists of two chapters:

· The first describes what the community can do.
· The second describes what the local health personnel can do.

But the action of the community and that of the local health per sonnet are closely linked. In disaster situations, the local health personnel sometimes need to act as a referral point for the population, to solve problems relating to survival or to the general organization of the community.