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National Institutes of Health
NLM Director’s Comments Transcript
Learning from the Disaster Response
in the Philippines: 04/28/2014
Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov
Regards to all our listeners!
I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
I’m Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine, for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the National Library of Medicine.
Here is what’s new this week in MedlinePlus.
The medical and public health response after the typhoon in the Philippines last November was more effective than recent emergency, relief attempts because first responders followed local planning efforts, suggests a perspective recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In contrast with recent natural disasters in other nations, the authors explain medical and public health first responders in the Philippines followed existing, local emergency response plans rather than trying to take charge of a response effort.
The authors write the physicians, nurses, and public health workers who arrived in the Philippines in November immediately learned (and we quote): ‘the top priority was not that they deploy their medical skills but that they support the plans that were already in place’ (end of quote).
The authors add the Philippine assistance plan emphasized providing food and medications to affected persons and ensuring relief workers had both to distribute. The authors find (and we quote): ‘even in the remote areas where …teams were deployed, clinicians treated many patients with hypertension and found that medications were locally available’ (end of quote).
The authors add the Philippine’s relief plan additionally placed responsibility for disaster response on regional governments and the local Red Cross while international agencies (such as the United Nations as well as international relief workers), provided a support role.
The authors explain this response plan was consistent with recent recommendations from international disaster relief agencies, which were informed by harsh experiences in nations that recently experienced natural and man-made disasters.
Overall, the authors write (and we quote): “medical responders to disasters, no matter how honorable their goals, can help others best when they are well-prepared and function as part of a coordinated and professional response’ (end of quote). The authors continue (and we quote): “When (medical relief workers) are deployed, they must collaborate with local response leaders and coordinating systems’ (end of quote).
Moreover, the authors suggest one of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent, helpful, disaster relief contributions has been to build - rather than try to supplant - the capacity of a host country impacted by a human or natural disaster. The authors note other constructive recommendations from the WHO include a global registry of international health care providers organized by medical skill sets.
The authors, who were part of the U.S.’ medical response team, conclude (and we quote): ‘In the response in the Philippines, we have seen encouraging signs of hope’ (end of quote).
Meanwhile, MedlinePlus.gov’s disaster preparation and recovery health topic page contains a website from the American Red Cross that provides tips about howyou can recover from a disaster or emergency. The Red Cross’ tips are in the ‘start here’ section. Similarly, a website (from Healthy Roads Media) provides a video checklist of tips how to respond to an emergency - and is available in the ‘videos’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s disaster preparation and recovery health topic page.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides two websites about preparing for - and responding to – severe weather as well as thunderstorms and lightening within the ‘specific conditions’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s disaster preparation and recovery health topic page.
MedlinePlus.gov’s disaster preparation and recovery health topic page also provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the ‘journal articles’ section. Links to related clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the ‘clinical trials’ section. You can sign up to receive updates about disaster preparation and recovery as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.
To find MedlinePlus.gov’s disaster preparation and recovery health topic page type ‘disaster preparation’ in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov’s home page. Then, click on ‘disaster preparation and recovery (National Library of Medicine).’ MedlinePlus.gov also contains health topic pages on hurricanes, tsunamis, and floods.
For medical professionals and first responders, NLM sponsors ‘Wiser,’ a service that provides you with instant access to medical, public health, toxic risks, and other, related information, which is available in the app store for many smartphones and mobile devices. NLM’s Disaster Information Management Research Center also is the most comprehensive, available website and information service. To find it, just type ‘NLM Disaster Information’ in any search engine.
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It was nice to be with you. I look forward to meeting you here next week.