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close this bookEmergency Health Management after Natural Disaster (PAHO-OPS, 1981, 67 p.)
close this folderPart II: Emergency relief procedures
close this folderChapter 11: Disaster preparedness
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentVulnerability analysis
View the documentEstablishment of a national coordination mechanism
View the documentPreparation of operation plans
View the documentTraining of health personnel and the public


Few types of natural catastrophe can now be predicted accurately. Exceptions are tidal waves and to a lesser extent destructive winds. Although hurricanes can be tracked by weather satellites, their exact point of impact remains uncertain until very shortly before it occurs.

Earthquakes, destructive winds, and floods do occur in well-defined areas particularly prone to natural hazards, however. Preparedness for disaster is therefore possible.

Where disaster is a regular and recurrent threat, disaster planning is generally incorporated into the government structure. In countries where the risk of disaster is real but their occurrence infrequent, the difficulties and cost of maintaining a sophisticated preparedness structure must be recognized.

Disaster preparedness is a permanent multisectoral activity to which the health sector's contribution is essential. Disaster preparedness consists of: