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 4.Periodic reports by the local health personnel

As soon as possible the local health personnel should prepare periodic reports (weekly at the outset, then monthly) summarizing the information collected daily on a large sheet of paper or in an exercise book. The reports should be sent to the intermediate level, which will thus have available a supplementary source of information essential for getting to know and evaluating the local situation.

The record sheets normally provided for health reports can be used, but it should be borne in mind that under emergency conditions the following items of information take on particular importance:


The composition of the community: in a disaster considerable variations may occur not only because of deaths and the evacuated but also because a certain number of families or individuals may decide to leave the disaster area either temporarily or for good. On the other hand persons originally from the area but living elsewhere may turn up, or else. after weeks or months, those who left the area in the first few days after the disaster may come back. It is important to know the age-structure of the local population in order to adapt health activity programmes accordingly and to assess requirements in the way of vaccines, medicaments, foodstuffs and other supplies.

The number and type of health personnel, among whom should also be counted local volunteers and volunteers from elsewhere.

The causes of death, which constitute a universally used indicator for assessing the health situation.

The cases it has not been possible to deal with on the spot, and the reasons behind the decision to evacuate. This makes it possible to define realistically the sphere of action of the local health team.

The establishments to which people have been evacuated: this makes it possible to adapt the data received from the intermediate level so as to make rational use of support structures and specialized centres.

The symptoms and diseases seen by the local health team: this indicates the disease pattern that is developing and the number of people affected.

The programmes and activities under way: this enables the intermediate level to take into account what the local team has already undertaken and to give the team indications on how to adapt its activities to the epidemiological forecasts made at intermediate level and in accordance with the evolution of the health situation in the whole of the disaster area.




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