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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2010 May-Jun;25(3):265-72.

Health impacts of floods.

Author information

1
School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. gj.fitzgerald@qut.edu.au

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Floods are the most common hazard to cause disasters and have led to extensive morbidity and mortality throughout the world. The impact of floods on the human community is related directly to the location and topography of the area, as well as human demographics and characteristics of the built environment.

OBJECTIVES:

The aim of this study is to identify the health impacts of disasters and the underlying causes of health impacts associated with floods. A conceptual framework is developed that may assist with the development of a rational and comprehensive approach to prevention, mitigation, and management.

METHODS:

This study involved an extensive literature review that located >500 references, which were analyzed to identify common themes, findings, and expert views. The findings then were distilled into common themes.

RESULTS:

The health impacts of floods are wide ranging, and depend on a number of factors. However, the health impacts of a particular flood are specific to the particular context. The immediate health impacts of floods include drowning, injuries, hypothermia, and animal bites. Health risks also are associated with the evacuation of patients, loss of health workers, and loss of health infrastructure including essential drugs and supplies. In the medium-term, infected wounds, complications of injury, poisoning, poor mental health, communicable diseases, and starvation are indirect effects of flooding. In the long-term, chronic disease, disability, poor mental health, and poverty-related diseases including malnutrition are the potential legacy.

CONCLUSIONS:

This article proposes a structured approach to the classification of the health impacts of floods and a conceptual framework that demonstrates the relationships between floods and the direct and indirect health consequences.

Comment in

PMID:
20586021
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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