RAPID HEALTH ASSESSMENT PROTOCOLS FOR EMERGENCIES
( By WHO - OMS, 1999 )

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2 - Purpose of assessment

Infectious diseases of many kinds are present in all human populations. Each population has an expected level of occurrence of each type of disease, and increases in these levels can result in an outbreak, epidemic or epidemic emergency.

Epidemics may occur as the result of an emergency or as an emergency in their own right. The potential risk of an epidemic may be influenced by a number of conditions, including:


- pre-existing disease levels, degree of immunity, and nutritional status;
- environmental change;
- changes in population density and movement of populations;
- disruption of water and sewage services; and
- disruption of basic health services.

An early response to an outbreak or threatened epidemic will often significantly reduce mortality and morbidity in the affected population and limit the spread of the disease to other populations. Rapid health assessment is a key part of such an early response.

The purpose of this rapid assessment is to:


- confirm the threat or existence of an actual epidemic;
- assess its health and socioeconomic impact and likely evolution; and
- assess local response capacity and identify the most effective control measures to minimize the epidemicís effects.

Table 2 gives examples of epidemic disease emergencies

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