Experience talking: KP health officials, workers call for strong localised disaster management

Published: May 3, 2012

At contingency planning workshop, participants stress the need for district disaster management committees. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: Health officials and workers from across Khyber-Pakhtukhwa emphasised the need for disaster management committees at the district level to effectively cope with natural calamities at a workshop on Thursday.

The workshop, arranged to chalk out a plan for provincial health preparedness and response mechanism for the impending monsoon season and the displaced persons situation, was jointly organised by the National Health Emergency and Response Network, World Health Organisation, the National Disaster Management Authority and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority.

“Participants will identify existing resources and gaps during the two-day exercise,” WHO Spokesperson Maryam Younis told The Express Tribune. “Similar workshops will be held in Lahore and Quetta.”

Officials, in their presentations, underscored needs and gaps in relief mechanisms, capacity building of staff, funding and other facilities to properly cope with an emergency. The presentations were prepared after consulting officials from various districts.

Dr Fida Muhammad, Upper Dir’s EDO health, in his presentation of needs and gaps told participants that the formation of district disaster management committees (DDMCs) was of prime importance in any disaster situation. “Capacity building of existing staff and induction of new human resources is also necessary other than separate budgeting for disaster management,” he said.

He said that airlift facilities should also be made available to district authorities in case of an emergency.

Anwar Jamal, Swat district coordinator for the Expanded Programme on Immunisation for polio, said that a district control room should be set up for such situations. “The responsible DCO should head this control room, and the district disaster management officer (DDMO) should be its focal person,” he suggested. “Other important agencies, including the sub-district administration, education, health, PTCL, local government, Communication and Works (C&W) and other departments should also be included, he said.

Elaborating on the control room’s features, he said that it should have latest geographic and demographic information and vulnerability maps. They must also know of areas where people can be moved in case of an emergency.

He also called for installation of flood early warning systems as well as health surveillance systems at the district level.

Jamal also pointed out that a proper reporting mechanism was needed for any eventuality as currently, every department had its own format. “I had to report on four different reporting formats during the floods as every department demanded that its format be followed,” he told officials.

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