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COPING WITH NATURAL DISASTERS: THE ROLE OF LOCAL HEALTH PERSONNEL AND THE COMMUNITY
( By A Working Guide (WHO - OMS, 1989) )

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Chapter 3.Outside assistance

National and international solidarity is certainly of very great importance for disaster-stricken communities. It may happen, however, that assistance from outside is more in line with the idea that the donors have formed of the disaster, or with what they are at any rate ready to give, than with real local requirements. Thus, certain forms of inappropriate assistance crop up again and again, such as consignments of medicaments not requested, field hospitals that will remain empty or unnecessary medical personnel.

It is therefore important for the community to request very early the assistance it really requires. In order to channel outside assistance more effectively in the period following the disaster, the community can ask the donors to send out first of all an expert with the task of helping to assess requirements and to formulate rehabilitation/reconstruction programmes that outside assistance can sustain. Experience shows that international assistance is much more important in the post-disaster period than in respect of emergency aid.

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