Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Key Aspects of Providing Healthcare Services in Disaster Response Stage

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Key Aspects of Providing Healthcare Services in Disaster Response Stage

Article excerpt


Disasters are abnormal events which create great potential losses (1). Some of the disasters are natural such as earthquakes, fires, and floods. However, there are unnatural and man-made disasters like terrorist attacks (2). Some researchers consider disasters as a function of risk and they believe that a disaster can be considered as a serious disurption to the functions of a community or a society as well as incurring material, economic or environmental losses. By the same token, it would have an impact on the ability of the affected community or society to cope with its own resources (3-5).

Different consequences of disasters have been stated by researches. They can encompass the death of so many people, high costs over time (6), great economic and political impacts (7), social and psychological disorders, destruction of infra- structure, damage to the residential houses, loss of properties, and generally the disruption of social life in societies (8). Among all these, the consequences that may harm the people's health and lives are vital (9). Following a disaster, a significant number of people will need proper healthcare (10). The risk of outbreak is often more in emergencies (11). Disasters reduce the physical health of survivors with injuries, intensifying chronic diseases and decreasing access to the health services (9).

There are three basic criteria for critical situations: first, there must be an expectation of serious harm; second, there must be an expectation that someone can do something to prevent or reduce that harm; and the third criteria, there must be time pressure. Flealthcare services would be different in these situations. Disasters need to be followed by quick decisions (12). The consequences of disasters and their impact on delivering health care services put the health care in the agenda of disaster management (13). New approaches to disaster know it as a paradox of the threat and opportunity (14). In the health system, evaluating programs and making known their challenges is necessary in order to improve and implement the reforms (15, 16).

Disasters demand various needs as they are very different according to time, place, and their extent (17). In a critical situation, great efforts should be made to ensure that each person receives proper care and the lives are preserved (18). A well-organized disaster preparedness plan and effective community participation are crucial to mitigate the impacts of a natural disaster (19). Disaster healthcare management is a systematic process, administrative, organizational, and operational decision-making skills and capacities, that deals with the challenges of planning in order to improve and reduce the healthcare consequences of natural disasters (13). The effectiveness of disaster management should be studied in all hazardous countries (20). Iran, a Middle East country with a population of 75 million (21) is a high-risk country (22-24). Several studies in Iran have identified the challenges of healthcare services in response to disasters (13, 25-29). Responding to these challenges requires an operational planning.

The aim of this study was to identify the desired operational examples of health services in disasters to reduce the challenges and promote disaster management. The present study answers two questions:

1- What factors have an impact on the effective management of health services in response stage to disasters?

2- What are the desired functioning examples of health services in disasters?

Materials and Methods

This is a qualitative study with a content analysis approach. Information was gathered using interviews. Purposive sampling was used to collect samples. Interviewees included 30 disaster management experts who had experience in managing natural disasters over the last decade in Iran. The experts were selected from among the managers of key organizations responsible for disaster management. …

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