Infectious Disease and Natural Disaster

 

The earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 was one of the worst natural disasters in history. According to Peranteau et al. (2010):

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Immediately after the earthquake the need so vastly outstripped the resources that patients generally lacked basic identifiers and medical records 

 

Nearly a quarter of a million people were killed with another quarter of a million injured, and millions of people were displaced from their homes (World Health Organization, 2010). In the ensuing months, a cholera epidemic ravaged the already traumatized country. The destruction of infrastructure, contamination of water supply, and increased human vulnerability from displacement create favorable conditions for the spread of infectious diseases following natural disasters. Respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases are also commonly found encountered after floods, tsunamis, and other types of meteorological and geophysical disasters.

In the aftermath of such tragedies, priority is placed on implementing control measures to re-establish basic healthcare and prevent epidemics. Nurses often play important leadership roles in both domestic and international disaster response. For this Discussion, you consider disasters from an epidemiologic perspective and how nurses can address health outcomes following them.

References:
Peranteau, W. H., Havens, J. M., Harrington, S., & Gates, J. D. (2010). Re-establishing surgical care at Port-au-Prince General Hospital, Haiti. Journal of the American College of Surgeons211(1), 126–130. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2010.04.015

World Health Organization. (2010, September). Letter from the editor. Focus: Emergency and Humanitarian Action, 5. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/205106/B4566 ;jsessionid=3C735D0DC06BD1C7497635EDF5928C93?sequence=1

To prepare:

  • Consider the role of epidemiologic methods in preparing for or responding to natural disasters.
  • Focus on global health initiatives, effects of natural disasters on health outcomes, and global health inequities and how they are magnified by natural disasters.
  • Select a recent (within past 10 years) natural disaster. You may choose an event that occurred in the U.S. or internationally.
  • Explore the current literature and identify the specific leadership roles that nurses have in mitigating negative health outcomes following disasters.
By Day 3 of Week 11
  • Briefly describe your selected recent natural disaster.
  • Discuss the health consequences of the disaster at the population level.
  • Explain how the concepts of population health and epidemiology discussed in this course were or could have been used to assess health outcomes after this disaster.
  • Explain how the concepts of population health and epidemiology discussed in this course were or could have been used to mitigate negative health effects following this disaster.
  • Describe the specific leadership roles that nurses have in mitigating negative health outcomes following disasters. 

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