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Asia Pac J Public Health. 2010 Jul;22(3 Suppl):222S-228S. doi: 10.1177/1010539510372844.

Defending against disasters: global public health emergencies and opportunities for collaboration and action.

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Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, UAE University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.


The World Health Organization project on the Global Burden of Disease quantifies the main causes of premature death and disability. Changing patterns of physical activity, diet, and alcohol and tobacco consumption are producing a growing burden of noncommunicable disease in low-and middle-income countries. This article focuses on a different group of health risks: major health emergencies that do not respect national borders and have an impact on health and the determinants of health such as housing, access to food and water, and other life essentials. Health emergencies, including accidents and natural events, are described, and data on disasters in the Middle East are presented. Disaster response is contrasted with disaster prevention, and disaster risk reduction is discussed in the context of vulnerability, climate change, and sustainable development. Finally, the international policy context of disaster risk reduction is discussed along with opportunities for multidisciplinary and multiinstitutional collaboration and research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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