Emergency Preparedness and Urban Population

Health is medically referred to as the well being of any person or living thing, a state of complete physical, mental and social well being. In most occasions, cases related to health are never compromised by any political or social organization. All health organizations in any given setting work towards the accomplishment of proper health service provision and the good quality services to the community around it or under its jurisdiction.

Any sustainable health measures include or require the proper consideration of different factors which include the institutional, political, managerial, and financial and technical that may seem sometimes to e beyond the scope of he laid structures. Health agencies and staffs should always bear at the back of their minds that regularly referred decisions are made during the response whenever health issues arise and this can always help in either the promotion or the reduction or undermining the longer tem sustainability of the services (Prescott, E. 2007)According to the world health organization policy, they do emphasize on the carrying out of the broad scope of the health responsibilities o the vulnerable populations through either voluntarily offering the services to the community or through the paid services sponsored by the affected or donor governments. Despite the issuance of health services to the affected populations, other services like the social support to the affected population should too be emphasized, primary health care, the provision of clean water and sanitation and disease prevention. Apart from these, there is also the response to challenges of the communicable diseases and non communicable diseases.

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Cases have arisen where the health services have been said to be offered discriminatorily. But according to the world health organization operational policies, health is regard as a right to everybody regardless of the color, religion, sex, origin and even the nationality. Diminished heath services therefore imply that full potential and capabilities of active individuals, their responsibility and productivity cannot be realized in any way and may not be fully explored to the maximum. The organizations policies also do assert that human dignity is only realized with proper health in place. Urban areas have a variety of populations, there are poor people, there is inequity, and there is also the widening of the gap between the social justice and lack of respect for human rights and gender inequality in some circumstances that need to be considered as issues that critically affect the physical, mental and social health of any given urban population. Health can not be necessarily measured by the development aspects although this really matters but it thus builds the social cohesion of the citizenship and the economic and even the social progress.

These therefore mean that the aspect of being in good health is major factor in the urban and the individual development. In any urban setting, the decision made in relation to health matters are probably essential components that determine the direction of health measures within the particular place (Kudrle, T., 1999).Disasters almost have significant impact on the public health and well being of the affected population. The public health impacts may be described as direct (injury, psychological trauma) or indirect (increased rate of infectious disease, malnutrition, complication of chronic diseases).

These indirect health impacts are usually related to factors such as inadequate quantity and quality of water, breakdowns in sanitation, interruption of food supplies, disruption of health services, overcrowding and population displacements.Different types of disasters are associated with differing scales and patterns of mortality and morbidity, and the public health and medical needs of an affected community will therefore vary according to the type and extend of disaster. Priotization of health services requires a clear understanding of the affected population prior health status, needs, health risks, resources and capacities. In early stages of a disaster, information may not be complete and important public health decisions are therefore made by the team without all the relevant data being available or analyzed. A multi sectoral assessment that includes community representatives are therefore be conducted as soon as possible to determine the public health impact of a disaster, the priority public health needs, the available resources and the requirements for external assistance. The priority public health interventions can be designed by the Public Health team on the ground to ensure that the greatest health benefit is to provide to the greatest number of people.

As far as possible, interventions are always based on the principle of evidence-based practice: those with demonstrated public health benefit are preferred. Such interventions usually include adequate quantities of safe water, sanitation, nutritional services, food aid/food security, shelter and basic clinical care. Preventive and clinical services should aim primarily to control diseases of epidemic potential. Participation of disaster-affected communities in design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of health services is essential. During this process there should always efforts by the Public Health teams to identify and build on the existing capacities within the health sector. Building local capacity with the affected population has been probably the most effective means of helping communities to recover from the disaster and to prepare for the future disasters (Cummins et al, 1996).

Whenever a disaster strikes an area, his implies that will be movement of the affected population to another place. In the case of the movement, the temporal where the population is going to be accommodated will tend to be overpopulated in most occasions. Due to congestion in the hosting division, there has been competition for scarce water and Sanitation facilities, leading to compromising of hygiene standards. There were further fears of outbreaks of waterborne diseases due to increased usage of untreated water. The clean water sources are not accessible to the affected people due to the ongoing clashes and so the displaced population will have to drink or use unclean water from springs and rivers or other available sources.

According to the world health organization, health problems among the displaced population and the displaced persons are likely to arise due to lack of adequate water and sanitation systems in churches, schools and government institutions where some displaced population do sought refuge. The displaced populations are likely to become ill and die from diseases related to inadequate water and sanitation supplies, such as diarrhea and other diseases transmitted by the faecal-oral route, and through poor hygiene and contaminated water. Other water and sanitation related diseases include those carried by vectors associated with solid waste and water. During the initial stages of camp set up, its sometimes critical to set a sanitation facility by the Public health team but they are established immediately following the arrival of the in the displaced populations camps to avoid water born diseases. In promotion of public health, the health team establishes control measures that focus on Preventing the creation of hazard, preventing the transportation of hazard and preventing people from being exposed to the hazard once they encounter it.

The principle hazard of water and sanitation programme during emergencies is usually human feaces which can transmit various types of pathogens. The team is therefore supposed to establish proper sites and reserves them for defecation fields away from water sources but not far from dwellings that may tend to discourage people from using them.Emergency preparednessThe ability of any body to predict and where possible prevent disasters and their impact to the environment and as well consequently cope with the international, national and local levels is the main objective of the of any emergency response plan. The main work of the emergency plan is to aid the implementing organization to reduce the vulnerabilities of the community that is yet to be affected or that one that has already been affected (in earthquake prone areas) in he improvement of their ability to cope with the threats of the earthquake. The plan therefore works towards the strengthening of the capacities of the societies in earthquake preparedness and the post disaster response which in turn determines the national society’s role or the role of the implementing organization that will strengthen the collective impact in preparedness towards the effective response at the levels of international standard (Gostin, O. 2009).

Emergency preparedness involves the forecasting and the taking of precautionary measures prior to the imminent threat whenever advance warnings are possible. Planning in the implementation of preparedness plan involves the improvements on the response to the effects of a disaster by organizing the delivery of timely and effective rescue response and the relief assistance. Emergency planning works towards the minimization of the adverse effects of a hazard through the effective precautionary actions, rehabilitation and recovery which ensures that the timely, appropriate and effective organization. Emergency response involves a variety of activities; this includes the development and regular testing of the early warning systems linked to forecasting within the systems, proper plans for evacuation, laid structures for proper measures taken during the disaster alert period to minimize the potential loss of life and the physical damage. In addition to the above, the plan needs to entail an educational and training of officials and the population at risk. The training of intervention teams should thus be considered inn the plan to equip then with the necessary skills to respond effectively to the awaited disaster.

Any emergency preparedness plan should also encompass issues related to the education and the training of the officials among the population that will take care of any emerging risks within that community; this plan should not also leave out the training of intervention teams. The capacity building among the vulnerable community members leads to shared responsibilities and helps in quicker response in the case of the anticipated disaster striking. Apart from the laid down plan, the urban community facing the risks of earthquakes should too establish policies, the standards, the organizational arrangements and the operational plans that are supposed to be applied following an earthquake disaster. The laid plan should too look for ways of securing resources that are vital in the pre disaster activities and post disaster activities. This may include, stockpiling of the supplies and earmarking of the funds in anticipation to the earthquake disaster. The plan can thus also be supported by the enabling of the legislation (Labonte, R.

2005). In emergency preparedness, two approaches can be given in this context; the structural or engineering mitigation measures and the non structural or non engineering approach to the emergency preparedness plan. In non-structural or non-engineering approach, the following measures can be taken; the stockpiling of both the non-food and food items. These items are necessary during response to an emergency and are meant to reduce the secondary impact of the earthquake disaster in this case to the community. In non-structural engineering mitigation approaches, public education is another important factor I the emergency preparedness plan to the earthquake prone area.

The public education programme is basically meant to equip the community facing the threats with he basic ideas on how respond safely during an earthquake emergency. As mentioned earlier in the paper, disasters are always accompanied by health issues of diverse nature depending on the catastrophe and the environment. In non-structural mitigation approach, there the awareness creation where by the community and the relevant geological department does give often situational alerts on anticipated risk basing on the weather conditions and the seismic data records. In application of the law, all the populations at risk are therefore allowed to insure all their properties with the area anticipating for the disaster, this will allow them at the end the day to claim the lost property as a result of the earthquake striking and the damage loss. Failure to do this or to ensure of the property, the effect on the individual or non-individual property may not be compensated due to either beauracracies in the compensating firm, poor valuation during the compensation on doubting the authenticity of the value given after the damage without necessarily giving figures of value of property prior to the damage.

Non-structural mitigation also allows for the implementation of the early warning system which will alert the community of the start of the disaster. This will give the community a chance to evacuate from the area at risk thus reducing or minimizing the number of casualties from the effect of the disaster. This will also allow the population to remove some of the portable valuables from their structures before they may be razed down by the earthquake. Early warning systems will also allow the psychological counselors to give talks to the community with the aim of preparing them psychologically on the impeding catastrophe of the earthquake. This will include mental health services and others.

Mitigation measures during emergency preparedness are meant to avert or reduce the hazards impact to the population at risk. This can either be done before the earthquake strikes, during and even after the catastrophe has already struck. The mitigation measures also aim at saving lives, the reduction of the economic disruption; reduce the vulnerability of the population and the property. Also, it decreases the risk conflict at large. Societal, Conflict management and resolution, Spatial Planning, Management and institutionalization of disaster management.

On the other hand, structural mitigation, there is the construction of stronger public and even individual structures that can be of a certain resilience compared to the intensity of the earthquake. This will include the construction of houses that and structures that can withstand the hazard of for instance the earthquake.An emergency preparedness plan is a framework designed to confront the major earthquake that is anticipated in San Francisco. The plan in most occasions does consist of three major parts that are inter-related In their operational and functional activities. The first part basically gives the objective, the scope and the limitations of the plan in its functional set up.

The first part also gives or describes the background and the geological, geographical, social, economic and the policy framework in which it is developed. This part also outlines the scenarios briefly that the plan is basically meant to work with. The scenario briefing gives the estimate of the impact of the anticipated earthquake and setting out the basic planning assumption that will direct the response, describe the exact resources to be available and their capacities at the urban level to respond to this anticipated earthquake. The plan should also outline how the parameters will govern the response and how the operational response would be achieved in the plan. In addition to these, the plan will outline the probable measures of maintaining the contingency plan as the most effective tool in the response to the earthquakes (the sphere project, 2004).

The second part of the plan shows basically the practical working guide in the measures of that need to be taken to prepare for the earthquake.Contingency plan outlinePart 1: Organization Name; e.g. San Francisco urbanPart 2: Contingency plan Title; e.g. Contingency plan for earthquake emergencies in San Francisco,Part 3: Introduction of the plan (justification of the plan); e.

g. a requirement by the law of the land-Act Cap 256),Part 4: History of earthquake emergencies in San Francisco; i.e. quantify lives & property lost, experiences & shortfalls of response, Part 5: Planning process (scenarios);Sensitivity analysis of disaster / hazard based on factors like history (frequency of occurrence), vulnerability etc.When planning consider Pre-emergency, During & Post-emergency periods,Part 6: Specify objectives of contingency plan: objectives should be; S-Specific, M-Measurable, A-Achievable, R-Realistic, T-Time bound e.

g. to create a preparedness & response mechanism / plan for earthquake disaster in San Francisco,Part 7: List the activities (emergency measures) at various periods to various incidents & within the specific objectives at Pre-emergency, During & Post-emergency periods,The following are some of the sample measures that can be taken just incase a disaster strikes, the following measures should be taken;a. Remain calm,b. Shut down all hazardous operations,c. Follow instructions,d.

Assist disabled persons,e. Leave the area in an orderly fashion,f. Close doors but don’t lock,g. Follow established evacuation routes,h. Move away from the structures and go directly to the assembly area,i.

Report to the evacuation coordinator for a head count,j. Don’t block the street or drive way,k. Stay at the assembly area till instructed otherwise.The implementing organization need to clearly understand the trends an even the characteristics as well as the factors that can comprises the present threats to the population occupying the areas. This very vital especially in the effective communication between the responding organizations and the geographical or geological agencies in partnership.

thorough and current understanding and ongoing analysis of the existing conflict, including who the state and non-state actors are, their motivations, the triggers for violent conflict and the possible risks and barriers to the humanitarian operation and the personnel associated with it. It is recognized that all conflict analyses are prone to an element of individual and organizational subjectivity. To overcome this real threat, it is necessary that the sources of information are ‘triangulated’ or verified from a number of sources that reflect a variety of perspectives. There have been occasions where by the plan is well set but the issue has been the implementation. Failure in this has always led to conflicts which at the end of the day lead to more damage to the population affected.Apart from the issue of the implementation, some states have actually ailed to allocate funds for the plan thus making it less effective whenever an emergency occurs.

Most of the initial structures of the emergency planning schedules had assumed responsibilities of other partners o players in the plan. This has often led to the collapse or failed responsibilities by the collaborating partners in the plan. Improper timing in the organizational approach to the plan also leads to the failed timing of the event to be followed and there delaying the response plan effectiveness.