VHPO Moderator perspective on VHPO Discussion: Post Disaster- What Role for Health Promotion?

By Francesca Ramondetti: VHPO Stream Manager

I’ve chosen to become involved as a stream manager for this topic as I thought it would be very challenging. And I’m not deluded so far. It’s something I have never experienced myself, but I’ve been reading lots of articles and studies about pre and post-disaster health promotion. I’m astonished as very good ideas were coming up since I started the topic, thanks to the precious contributions of other ISECN/IUHPE members.

I hope we will go on finding answers to the many questions which have been raised, such as:

  1. Who should be targeted for aid first in these situations?
  2. How can we keep families together and support re-growth? Maybe by setting up local groups for parents to meet and discuss, and receive advice? By play groups, taking the minds of the problems for some minutes? By make-shift schools?
  3. How can health promoters actually impact the way countries currently deal with aid relief efforts?
  4. Is there an acute form of health promotion? Or is health promotion always long-term efforts?
  5. When the world’s attention is focused on the drama during the emergency state and it seems that everyone wants to help and that it’s really possible to begin those longer-term community development programs. But what happens when the world’s attention begins to fade?
  6. Who are the health promoters we are discussing, and how do they work? Do we imagine health promoters going to do short time efforts as part of an ‘aid’ effort, or should the main responsibility be on locally sustained efforts?

Post-disaster health promotion should focus on encouraging people to take part in protecting their health and make the best use of facilities and services provided by the community. It would be of a great importance to do the following:

  • Provide water and sanitation
  • Teach about practices for hygiene in disaster situations
  • Be sensitive in communication with a stressed population
  • Health promoters’ goal should be to help vulnerable groups including children, pregnant women, the disabled and the elderly on one hand and to deliver psycho-social support to all the population on the other hand. Nevertheless, another aim should be to improve the quality of life by strengthening cooperation among international organizations and to challenge each other to be truly committed to sustainable development and equity.
  • Furthermore, more attention should be focused on the health structure’s organization and functions, health institutions and technical programs, legislation, coordination among different sections, and other key areas relating to disaster response.

 Published: March 2010

For more information on Francesca, see her Bio.

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