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COVID 19 AS A DISASTER

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Freepick

COVID19 Pandemic is the dominated controller of the whole world since 2019. Human species has been again challenged by the nature as it happens repeatedly in cycles on timeline. Many epidemics recorded in last centuries with similar nature of impacts on human life causing heavy death tool and devastations of economies. However, it is obvious that the response to the epidemics in modern world is progressively different from the old events. There are many influential factors contributing on that. For example, global networked communications, bio medical advancements in detections and treatments can be easily highlighted. More specifically, microscopes, vaccines, testing methods, quick and global consultation and warning networks are prominently contributing to contain the super-fast spreading viral epidemic at maximum efficiencies. Compared to last centuries, today, human being are much stronger to fight against epidemics.

Any incidence that is considerably impacting on normal social existence can be termed as disaster. According to the accepted definitions, Disasters are serious disruptions to the functioning of a community that exceed its capacity to cope using its own resources. Disasters can be caused by natural, man-made and technological hazards, as well as various factors that influence the exposure and vulnerability of a community (source: https://www.ifrc.org). According to the definition, COVID 19 can also be taken as health disaster. Disasters pose great challenges for the health system because of their physical, psychosocial and economic impacts on communities, and in disrupting a system that already has significant demands on its resources. COVID 19 has obviously disrupted the socio, economic settings in most of the human communities. Therefore, in health management processes, disaster management mechanisms and strategies are important to consider in this kind of epidemic control programs.

According to disaster management concepts, pre, during and post disaster stages can be identified in disaster occurrences. Same as other emergency managements, it needs to accomplish the actions during each stage in order to control epidemics. It is important to explore further with disaster management concepts related to health disasters such as epidemics. There are main phases in disaster cycle to think of in any disaster management efforts. Those are Preparedness & planning, early warning & public awareness, response, recovery and rehabilitation, prevention / mitigation.

In any capacities, local to global, communities should have preparedness on any types of emergencies based on the existing hazards closer to them. Health hazards cannot be localised since it can initiate from anywhere. Epidemics start and end in communities. The risk of the spread and possibility of turning in to an epidemic or pandemic is very high if the hazard is a viral infection and spread through air borne. That’s the main reason for COVID 19 become pandemic within shorter period of time. Therefore, human society has massive responsibility on controlling the disease spread. This has become the main challenge related to global COVID 19 control actions. In the current highly populated, complex and dynamic world, containing epidemic is very difficult but not impossible if whole human society is mindful and responsible to contribute with individual efforts. It means, the key for controlling of COVID 19 is with peoples’ hands. Other measures like treatments, vaccinations are only supplementary. Preparation for any infectious diseases and follow health guidelines is to be expected from society as a whole. It fulfils the preparedness and planning step related to epidemic control. This reduces exposure and then, vulnerability to the epidemic.

In case of an outbreak from any location of the world, world community need to be alerted and well aware of the nature of disease. This should be immediate and timely happened same as other emergency situations such as tsunami, landslides, and volcanic eruptions. Related to COVID 19, this was not happened in satisfactory levels. Once the outbreak at local level in Wuhan, China recorded, authorities could have immediately contain the world communities up to certain level with the contact tracing at initial phase. Unfortunately, those measures seemed missing or delayed. Based on the happenings, it seemed like this epidemic was simply taken by world health authorities at initial stage. Those loopholes loosened the chance of containing this outbreak at initial point. As strength to the mankind, mass media and online platforms could make the world aware of this viral infection at its origin. That is a blessing for the modern world human being. If not, this epidemic could have done much higher impact.

Freepick

Response to the epidemic is mainly a collective effort. Everyone has a responsibility to do own duty as a member of society and as a vulnerable person to the epidemic. With regards to the COVID 19, wearing masks, hand sanitising and hygiene, social distancing, vaccinations, testings and limitations of travels are some of the key control actions to be taken by communities at individual levels.

Recovery and restoration after epidemic or any disaster event, is significant because of the need to continue the regaining and continuing normal social life styles as well as economic and development activities. Based on the capabilities of response to the epidemic, level of recovery in terms of time to recover, percentage of recovery are determined. All disaster management phases are interrelated. If the previous phase has not fulfilled well, it determines the success of next phase. Therefore, all levels in disaster management should be well addressed to gain success.

Prevention of the epidemic is happened with the time and it needs commitment of the society. Immunisation is one of the immediate measures for prevention. But, world society, as a whole should think of sustainable preventive measures on this type of epidemics. Those actions can be related to lifestyle and changes to food and nutrition intakes, good health habits and maintaining healthy environments. These all actions lead towards resilience society.

Freepick

COVID 19 has brought very significant learning opportunities to mankind. It showed us the power of nature in controlling over the modern human powers and capacities. On the other hand, this showed us the importance of management actions in the manner of timely and correctly to fight against the epidemic.

Most importantly, local stakeholders have crucial roles in the prevention and control of disease transmission, and develop systems of appropriate health and social care. Since the existing approaches yet do not sufficiently attract more community expertise, it needs to be re considered in planning of epidemic control programs. Finally, it is recommendable to develop combination of top-down, intermediary, and bottom-up approaches in the society in epidemic management in a perspective of a disaster management.

Priyanga Kumara Premarathne
Priyanga Kumara Premarathne
M.Sc.(EE), B.Sc. (Sp) Agric. Australia

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