|Disaster Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Policy (International Committee of the Red Cross , 1993, 11 p.)|
Where it is decided that a short term relief health and nutrition programme should be extended into say a longer-term primary health care or nutritional surveillance programme, it is essential that the necessary provision is made to follow this up properly and ensure the actions are sustainable in the medium term. This can involve strengthening local health structures, reconstruction of health posts, rehabilitation of water supplies and regular monitoring.
Health includes not only medical aspects but also questions of food, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, health services and housing, all of which are disrupted by disasters. Apart from the restoration and rehabilitation of facilities and services National Societies responsibilities will extend to long-term health problems caused by the disaster. National Societies can play a role in the re-establishment of basic health care services and infrastructure.
· Food supplies can be restored by supporting agricultural programmes, through food or cash-for-work, therapeutic and supplementary feeding programmes for those in need as well as public information and education programming.
· Water supplies can be improved by protecting existing sources of drinking water and establishing new ones, water purification programmes, and public information.
· Essential sanitation and hygiene needs should be met by the construction of latrines and waste disposal pits with campaigns on the subject including the handling of food and refuse and support for disease vector-control programmes.
· The restoration of normal health facilities including the reconstruction of facilities, the provision of drugs and equipment, the training of personnel, preventive programmes and epidemiological surveillance should be considered as potential National Society programmes.
· Disasters affect the physical and mental health of individuals and groups, leaving numbers of people physically disabled and psychologically traumatised, destitute, unaccompanied or expelled. National Societies can help by supporting specialised therapeutic programmes, assisting in long-term care and counselling or by providing education, vocational training and tracing services.
National Societies must act in their auxiliary role to the Government to help rehabilitate basic health structures and restore essential health services to those most in need; the most vulnerable. However, National Societies should resist governmental pressure to take on overall responsibility for areas of health service and provision which are beyond their capacity and resources. On the other hand, National Societies are often in a better position to experiment with promising innovations, which eventually find their way into policy, than state health services may be.
It is a precondition of competent health rehabilitation action that a health disaster preparedness programme is well established an that professional manpower and material resources are accessible.
National Societies have specific roles to play in health during rehabilitation. Stemming from their established capacities in various technical fields such as blood transfusion services, management of outpatient departments, geriatric care, primary health care etc..
National Societies should be aware of any necessary and pending policy changes in the health system in the country where rehabilitation is being planned. Where it does not contradict the fundamental Principles of the Movement, rehabilitation programmes should be in conformity with such policy changes.