Managing Health Related Problems in Disasters
Effectively: Use of ICT from Pre to Post Disasters
Presentation for IVth International Conference on
‘Transforming Health Care with IT’
Dr. Sunita Reddy
Center of Social Medicine and Community Health,
Jawaharlal Nehru University
Anthony Giddens and Ulrich Beck have termed "Risk
society", a society that is organized in response
to risk, a society increasingly preoccupied with the
future (and also with safety), which generates the
notion of risk" (Giddens 1999: 3)
With modernization comes a manufactured risk, with
a significant level of human agency operating in the
production and mitigation of it (Beck 1992: 21).
It’s a Global World with Global Threats- Disasters
‘natural’ ‘man-made’- Biological, Chemical, Nuclear…
Have We learnt from
• Methyl Isocyanides (MIC leak in
1984 in Bhopal)
• Deaths- around 16,000
• Severely injured 5,58,000
• Still birth rate gone up by 300% and
Neonatal mortality by 200%.
• Shortage of hospitals and doctors.
• Medical staff were unprepared for
thousands of casualties and were
not even aware of treatment
methods of MIC inhalation.
• Disposal of dead- concern- dumbed
in Narmada along with mass burial.
Building ICT Services
Building critical ICT services, having a pre-planned
response to any major disruption by invoking a
Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP), and defining the
procedures to recover fully is the need of the hour.
Prepare ICT based Disaster Reduction Planning in
Health Care System.
Following figure gives a framework to plan ICT in
heath care system at a community level.
Risk/Impact Assessment – Pre-planned list of critical systems to be
Recovery Strategy – DR contractor to assist the ICT Department with
recovery of affected systems
DR Plans – ICT Security Specialist co-ordinates the implementation of
the DR Plans
Educate – Structured Test Programme to train ICT Systems staff in
Test Plans – Planned testing of nominated systems by ICT Systems staff
Update Plans – Regular review of the DR Plan and training new staff
History is witness to all kinds of Chemical, Biological,
Radiological or Nuclear Disasters across the world.
Today we are able to take precautions and contained
the disaster due to ICT- example in JAPAN, India etc.
unlike in history.
In contrast to chemical, conventional, and nuclear
weapons that generate immediate effects, biological
agents are generally associated with a delay in the
onset of illness (hours to days).
Moreover, illness from biological weapons are not
likely to be recognized in their initial stages. With
highly transmissible agents (eg. Plague and
smallpox), the time delay in recognition can result in
widespread secondary exposure to others, including
doctors and health staff.
IT can enable to keep surveillance on any change in
disease pattern- immediate or slow.
Disasters and Destruction
of Health Services
Large-scale disasters also affect the public health
personnel, in terms of lives lost- takes some time to
restore to normalcy.
The destruction of health care centres and the
equipment contained within is only a part of the
problem because some of the members of the
health care team may also lose their life during the
Disasters have severe impact on Public Health
In Tsunamis, Floods etc. mosquitoes thrive due to
large scale stagnation, leading to the spread of
mosquito-borne diseases, respiratory problems, skin
problems, like rashes, allergies and psychological
problems such as anxiety, depression and post
traumatic stress adds to the complexities post-
Ex. From ‘Clash of Waves’
F-4, Shaheen Bagh,Okhla,New Delhi-25. Email:-email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, Cont No. +91-9810521404
Dr. Sunita Reddy
‘Clash of Waves: Post-Tsunami
Rehabilitation in Andaman and Nicobar
Islands’ is located in anthropological
discipline, based on longitudinal research
covering five years of post tsunami
rehabilitation. Often media and
government focus on the disaster event,
the emergency and relief period activities,
but long-term rehabilitation are given a
short shrift. What happens to people’s
lives, livelihoods and shelters devastated
in disaster, is not known and not
documented. This book traces and
documents experience of the effected
people and the gaps emerging out of this
long and arduous attempt to rehabilitate
them. Most important being livelihoods
and the most contentious issue is shelters.
Above all, the top down rehabilitation
packages on the Nicobarese have changed
their culture forever…
Post Tsunami Relief & Rehabilitation in Andaman And
Book Released on 24
Dec 2012, NDMA
Public Health Implications
Public health implications of large-scale disasters are
felt for months and years to come. Each disaster
leads to immense public health problems, which
varies from disaster to disaster.
Providing health care pre and post disaster is
important. Preparedness to any disaster can be
improved with prior planning.
ICT can be of immense value to plan, prepare and
mitigate in disaster scenarios
The primary concern of the disaster epidemiology is
to improve decision–making, by emergency
response personnel and reduce the adverse public
health consequences of disasters.
IT can be of immense help to scientifically measure
health effects of disasters, in order to assess the
needs of the disaster affected populations, to match
resources and needs efficiently, to prevent further
adverse health effects, to evaluate programme
effectiveness and to plan for contingencies (Noji
Pre and Post incident care
check list using IT
Pre- Disasters- IT based Data base – base line survey of the
disease profile, health services, availability of beds and
specialists known to the DDMA and SDMA
prepared check list for Self Assessment by responders /
After action review of successes and failures.
Community post incident response checklist.
Media & Public Relations and Documentation / Reporting using
IT surveillance for Unusual swarm or insects and Unexplained
ICT for identification and Disposal of Dead facilitated through
Community Involvement - IT
Using Web, media, mobiles the community can be
involved in pre- during and post disasters.
Children fond of interesting video games- design
games which teach a lesson/ build skills for disaster
response and mitigation.
IT based disaster management courses in schools be
Interactive IT programs, where people can report
any unusual cases of diseases to the hospitals .
Information to the
Giving credible and need based information relating to
hazardous biological / chemical elements.
A regular system of information for accessing and
recruiting a suitable nodal person called community
information representative (CIR) to disseminate the
information and create awareness in the community.
Communication material in simple, local language,
Various representatives of the communities can play an
important role in training and awareness programmes
(NDMA guidelines, 2007).
Davis Lee. 2002. Man- Made Catastrophes. Checkmark Books. New York.
BBC. ^ "Bhopal: Could it happen again?". 16 Dec 2008.
on 7 January 2009.
Giddens Anthony (1999) “Risk and Responsibility” Modern Law
Review 62(1): 1-10.
Beck Ulrich (1992) Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. New Delhi:
Sage. (Translated from the German Risikogesellschaft published in 1986
NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) (2007) National
Disaster Management Guidelines Chemical Disasters (Industrial). Govt.
Ronan R. Kevin and David M. Johnston (2005) Promoting Community
Resilience in Disasters: The role schools, youth, and families. Springer.