When a calamity or a natural disaster strikes, the hospitals and emergency response units are the first to spring into action. The healthcare sector plays a critical and commendable role in minimizing damages after a catastrophe occurs. The better the healthcare response to the emergency, the lesser the risk of casualties.
Healthcare emergencies are of various types. These can be in the form of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, flooding, etc. Sudden change in weather can also, at times, create an emergency, such as a heatwave. The breaking out of an epidemic or a pandemic can also warrant an emergency response. To understand this, we do not have to go much in the past. The COVID-19 crisis currently haunting us is an apt example. But talking about medical emergencies, quite many countries handled the COVID-19 situation well by implementing timely lockdowns. However, recently, India faced a severe medical catastrophe with a sudden surge in the COVID-19 cases in April 2021. They did not expect it, and a slight miscalculation led to India gasping for breath and the healthcare sector on the brink of a collapse.
A well-equipped disaster relief structure is necessary for countries to stay prepared in the face of a crisis. Suppose a country or state fails to respond adequately to a calamity. In that case, it means there are some troubling loopholes in the system. Here are some ways we believe the healthcare sector can improve disaster management:
One mistake that institutes often make is to devise a system after a catastrophe takes place. An emergency needs prompt action. A delay can cost the state some massive damages. The proper way to minimize the time taken to act during a crisis is by developing a system in advance. It would be best to have suitable leaders and specialists together in a disaster relief team who can promptly react and make necessary decisions.
Various professionals have the essential skills needed to assist with emergency preparedness, such as those with a degree in public health. However, suppose any of your healthcare facility workers are not abreast of public health and disaster management. In that case, it could cost you a lot. Therefore, using the means of convenient online education provide them the necessary knowledge and training. By enrolling in an online MPH degree, the professionals will develop a crucial understanding of public health management and disaster preparedness. A team of professional experts who know how to respond to a calamity quickly can improve how the healthcare sector functions during a catastrophe.
It is doable to own a team of experts who are always ready to respond to an emergency. You can also have a stock of essential supplies you may need in case of an unforeseen disaster. However, the healthcare authorities cannot entirely assess which medical resources and how much quantities the state would need in a crisis. Hence, in such a scenario, being flexible works best.
It is impractical to stockpile supplies for every unforeseen event. However, what the authorities should do is keep its options available. They should maintain cordial relationships with suppliers and know where to procure the necessities in case of an emergency. There should be enough options available to procure all items without delay during disaster relief.
After a disaster hits, fear and panic are normal emotions among the public. As a result, many people end up hoarding and stockpiling essential items. The weak ones end up getting nothing if the distributions stay irregulated. For example, when the COVID-19 spread, many people started hoarding food items. We witnessed people fighting over tissue rolls in the supermarket. Sanitizers quickly ran out of stock, and some shops put up a restriction of one bottle per person. Such panicking is expected in the wake of a crisis. It needs to be overseen by the state to avoid havoc and further damage.
The healthcare sector should ensure fair distribution of medical items and supply them to the areas that need them the most. An example of this is the initial provision of the COVID-19 vaccine to the front-line medical workers and individuals aged above 60. Since these people were the most vulnerable to the virus, the authorities decided to vaccinate them first. It serves as an apt example of equitable distribution of healthcare relief during a crisis.
Educate Citizens on Crisis Management:
Educating individuals regarding crisis management can reduce the burden on the healthcare sector. When a disaster strikes, the healthcare sector has the sole responsibility, which can often become incapacitating. However, the state can manage the crisis well if the public knows how to take care of themselves during an emergency.
For example, the healthcare sector can issue guidelines on how to handle themselves in case of flooding. The tips can include the need to store necessary eatables, have a light source if the electricity is cut-off. Similarly, they can tell them to avoid helping someone who is drowning, move to a higher-up spot, etc. It is best to teach individuals how to respond in a crisis to ensure that the healthcare sector does not falter while handling everything itself.
Be Globally Independent:
It is normal for economies to depend on each other for certain goods and services. However, a state should always have available options to produce within borders as well. In the case of an international crisis, being massively reliant on other economies can hinder your emergency responsiveness.
Let us take the recent example of the spread of COVID-19. It rapidly became a pandemic, which affected the whole world. Countries were busy fighting within borders for their health and safety, which resulted in quite a few lacking the resources to produce essential items. For example, the U.S. has all its biomedical PPE production outsourced to countries that make these at cheaper rates. It became the talk during the pandemic and highlighted that it is essential for countries to have independence and self-reliance to handle emergencies adequately.
Undeniably, the healthcare industry plays a significant role in disaster management. It is responsible for providing the necessary aid to people after a crisis and ensuring minimal damage. It is imperative to ensure that the healthcare sector is well-prepared even before calamity strikes. We have highlighted a few ways above how we think the healthcare sector can improve its emergency response system. These are some simple steps; however, they can make a huge difference in how a state handles an emergency when implemented.