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NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

INTRODUCTION 

  • A hazard is a dangerous condition or threat, natural or manmade, that can cause injury, loss of life or damage to property, livelihood or environment. Disaster on the other hand can be defined as Catastrophic situation in which normal patterns of life or ecosystems have been disrupted and extraordinary emergency interventions are required to save and preserve human lives and environment. Thus hazard is a threat, while disaster is an event. The latter is a calamity or tragedy or consequence of a hazard.
  • Disasters can be classified on the basis of their origin:
  • Meteorological — Floods, Droughts, Cyclones, Hurricanes.
  • Topographical — Landslide, avalanches
  • Tectonic — Earthquake, volcanoes
  • Infestic — Epidemics, Locust invasion of crops
  • Human — Industrial and vehicular accidents, war and civil strife, fire, terrorist attacks, nuclear leakage
  • The vulnerability or intensity of disasters is governed by following factors —
  • Historical and social conditions and the level of economic development. In developing countries, even a potentially modest hazard may prove disastrous.
  • Type of land use — ‘What is exposed’ or ‘how is exposed’ determines the amount of damage. Damage by an earthquake in desert or mud houses or wooden houses as in Japan is less than damage caused in densely populated area.
  • Geographical position of an area. For example coastal areas are more prone to cyclones.
  • Disasters are made worse by man, e.g. Droughts associated with shortage of food, fodder, water and means of transport are disastrous. “Famines are manmade’ — Amartya Sen.

DROUGHT | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

  • Drought is a temporary reduction in water or moisture availability significantly below the normal or expected amount for a specific period. Drought is a distress situation caused by lack of rainfall. Droughts are caused due to failure of monsoon or when it is delayed or arrives early or has longer dry spells or uneven spatial distribution or withdraws without giving rains. Thus amount, time and distribution of rainfall matters.
  • Also drought is a relative phenomenon as the inadequacy is with reference to prevailing agro-climatic conditions. Drought and aridity both indicate shortage of water. But aridity is a permanent condition whereasdrought is a temporary situation. Arid and semi-arid regions are more prone to drought.

TYPES OF DROUGHTS

  • Meteorological Drought: As per Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), meteorological drought exists when average annual rainfall is less than 75% of the normal. But it must be mentioned that rather total amount of rainfall, the evenness of rainfall matters more. Thus, even though India get an average of 110 cm annual rainfall, the evenness of rainfall, due to erratic and concentrated nature of rainfall, we see frequent drought situation.
  • Hydrological Drought: It sets in when water level in surface and ground falls. Earlier it used to take two successive meteorological droughts before hydrological drought sets in.
  • Agricultural Drought: It occurs when soil moisture goes below the level needed to sustain plant growth. High yielding varieties (HYV) seeds require more water. This increases vulnerability to drought as against traditional drought resistant varieties. The use of manures and organic fertilizers increases water retentivity of soil.
  • Socio-economic Drought: It reflects reduced availability of food and, income loss due to crop failure.
  • Famine: Famine occurs when large scale collapse of access to food occurs, often leading to mass starvation.
  • Ecological Drought: It occurs when productivity of a natural ecosystem fails and causes environmental damage like death of cattle, wild life or trees in forest.

EXTENT OF DROUGHT PRONE AREAS

  • A drought prone area is where probability of a drought year is greater than 20%. The arid and semi-arid areas of West and northwest India and rainshadow region of Western Ghats are the most drought prone areas. These areas receive less than 75 cm annual rainfall, variability of rainfall over 40% and are with inadequate irrigation facilities. About 30% of the country’s total area is drought prone, affecting 68% of total sown area. Severity-wise, years of 1965, 1972, 1979, 1987, 2002, 2009 and 2012 were the most severe drought years in post-independence India. Droughts lead to the scarcity of foodgrains, water and fodder. The socio-economic impacts of drought are well known.

DROUGHT MANAGEMENT

  • Drought management is done by focusing on employment generation, water conservation and power supply, standing crop saving and public distribution supplies of essential commodities. The impact of drought can be reduced by integrated water harvesting programmes with active people’s participation. Reviving of traditional water harvesting methods like tanks in South India, bandharas in Maharashtra and johads in Rajasthan (i.e. Check dam), zing in Ladakh, etc. are time tested. Countries like Israel with annual rainfall of 23 cm have a sustainable system based on rainwater harvesting.
  • Other equal important measures are building small dams, afforestation and use of drought resistant crops, drip and sprinkle irrigation, etc. Also expeditious completion of ongoing irrigation projects is needed.

DROUGHT PRONE AREAS PROGRAMME (DPAP)

It started in 1974. It aimed at drought proofing through adoption of Integrated area development approach. It sought to reduce impact of future droughts by stabilizing both production and employment. Under Integrated Watershed Management and National Watershed Programme for Rainfed Areas, a large number of watersheds have been established. Presently MNREGS too undertakes such works.

FLOODS | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

  • Flood occurs when a river overflows its banks and spreads out over bordering flood plain. Floods and droughts on one hand are cumulative natural hazards. On the other hand, due to peculiar nature of Indian monsoon floods and droughts may affect different pockets of the country at the same time of a year.
  • India is highly vulnerable to floods. Out of the total geographical area of 329 million hectares (mha), more than 40 mha is flood prone. Floods are a recurrent phenomenon, which cause huge loss of lives and damage to livelihood systems, property, infrastructure and public utilities. It is a cause for concern that flood related damages show an increasing trend. This can be attributed to many reasons including a steep increase in population, rapid urbanization growing developmental and economic activities in flood plains coupled with global warming.
  • Floods have also occurred in areas, which were earlier not considered flood prone. Eighty per cent of the precipitation takes place in the monsoon months from June to September. The rivers bring heavy sediment load from catchments. These, coupled with inadequate carrying capacity of rivers are responsible for causing floods, drainage congestion and erosion of river-banks. Cyclones, cyclonic circulations and cloud bursts cause flash floods and lead to huge losses. It is a fact that some of the rivers causing damage in India originate in neighboring countries; adding another complex dimension to the problem. Continuing and large-scale loss of lives and damage to public and private property due to floods indicate that we are still to develop an effective response to floods.

CAUSES AND DISTRIBUTION OF FLOODS

  • Heavy Rainfall: Heavy concentrated rainfall and earlier melting of snow in

Himalayas reduces the capacity of rivers to accept any more surface run-off due to rains. As a result water spills over into adjoining areas. The middle and lower courses of North Indian Rivers such as Ganga, Brahmaputra, Kosi, Damodar, etc. are prone to floods because of very low gradient. Peninsular rivers are mature and have hard rock beds, so they have shallow basins. This makes them prone to flooding.

  • Tropical Cyclones and Cloudburst: Parts of eastern coasts of India are particularly prone to cyclones during October-November. These cyclones are accompanied by strong winds, storm surges, tidal waves, torrential rains. Flash floods in arid areas are associated with cyclonic storms. Cloud bursts are basically thunderstorms which yield very heavy rains (>50-100 cm within few hours). All of these cause extensive damage within short span of time.
  • Inadequate Drainage: The flat plains of Indo-Gangetic plains do not have the enough gradients for outlet of drainage.
  • Human Factors: These greatly increase the vulnerability of flood prone areas. Activities such deforestation, faulty agricultural practices, indiscriminate urbanization, construction on natural levees, bluffs in cities, etc. cause soil erosion and silting of river beds.

URBAN FLOODING | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

Flooding in the cities and the towns is a recent phenomenon caused by increasing incidence of heavy rainfall in a short period of time, indiscriminate encroachment of waterways, inadequate capacity of drains and lack of maintenance of the drainage infrastructure. Keeping in view the fact that the problem is becoming more severe and losses are mounting every year, the subject of urban flooding has been recognised by the NDMA as one meriting exclusive attention.

URBAN FLOODING RISK IN INDIA | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

  • There has been an increasing trend of urban flood disasters in India over the past several years whereby major cities in India have been severely affected. The most notable amongst them are Data: Hyderabad in 2000, Ahmedabad in 2001, Delhi in 2002 and 2003, Chennai in 2004, Mumbai in 2005, Surat in 2006, Kolkata in 2007, Jamshedpur in 2008, Delhi in 2009 and Guwahati and Delhi in 2010, Shrinagar 2014.
  • Causes: A special feature in India is that we have heavy rainfall during monsoons. There are other weather systems such as cloudburst, cyclones etc. also cause additional rain. Storm surges can also affect coastal cities/ towns. Sudden release or failure to release water from dams can also have severe impact. In addition, the urban heat island effect has resulted in an increase in rainfall over urban areas. Global climate change is resulting in changed weather patterns and increased episodes of high intensity rainfall events occurring in shorter periods of time. Then the threat of sea-level rise is also looming large, threatening all the coastal cities.

Vulnerable cities: Cities/towns located on the coast, on river banks, upstream/ downstream of dams, inland cities and in hilly areas can all be affected.

CONSEQUENCES OF FLOODS

Though floods are temporary inundation, they cause extensive damage as follows:

  1. Loss of human lives, cattle and property.
  2. Temporary loss of agricultural season and fertile soil cover.
  3. Salinization once water evaporates.
  4. Disruption of rail, road communication and essential services.
  5. Spread of water born and infectious diseases immediately after floods.

FLOOD MANAGEMENT | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

PREPAREDNESS AND PREVENTION MEASURES,

  1. Flood Forecasting: Central Water Commission issues daily flood forecasts and warning throughout the season of general rains. The Central Flood Forecasting Organisation through its stations monitors floods all over country and issues warnings.
  2. Reduction of Runoff: Reduction of runoff by afforestation in the catchment area is one of the most effective methods in flood prevention. Tree cover checks the runoff, siltation and increase percolation of water. Construction of dams and reservoirs helps to release water in the rivers under controlled conditions.
  3. Construction of embankments: Embanking of the river channels has been taken in a ‘big way particularly in rivers of the Northern Plains by Central Water Commission and Flood Control Commission. River Valley Authorities such as those of Brahmaputra, Ganga, Krishna, Kaveri, etc. have been involved in Construction of embankments and all other measures too. They also undertake regular dredging of the rivers.
  4. Flood Plain Zoning: It’s very effective method and of utmost importance in flood management. It is based on land use on floodplains. The construction of buildings, factories, houses in the zones adjacent to river channels should be prohibited. The areas occasionally flooded should be under Green Belts and Social Forestry should be encouraged in flood plain.

National Flood Control Programme was launched in 1954 which has all the above described elements.

MITIGATION (POST-FLOOD MANAGEMENT)

  1. Rescue Operations
  2. Speedy restoration of transport system
  3. Supply of safe drinking water
  4. Repair of power, telephone and sewerage lines
  5. Supply of food, shelter and clothing
  6. Survey to assess the loss and compensation
  7. Rehabilitation of properties
  8. Desilting and dewatering of inundated areas
  9. Contingency plan for agriculture sector

EARTHQUAKES | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

  • `Earthquake is a violent tremor in the earth’s crust sending out a series of shock waves in all directions from its place of origin’. The most devastating earthquakes are of tectonic origin. They are associated with large strain in the crust of the earth. There may be earthquakes non-tectonic origin. For example, earthquakes caused by volcanic eruptions, rock bursts, subsidence in mines, impounding of reservoirs, etc. Damages caused by such earthquakes are confined to small areas.
  • Magnitude and intensity are two ways of measuring the strength of an earthquake. The magnitude measured on the Richter scale is a measure of damage caused by the earthquake. Indian Meteorological Department has divided the country into five zones, namely, Zone-I — No Risk; Zone-II — Low Risk; Zone-III — Moderate Risk; Zone-IV — High Risk; and Zone-V — Very High Risk. About 55% of the country is vulnerable to earthquakes. However, the earthquake activity in different parts of the country is not of same intensity. On the basis of recent experiences, no part of the country is free from earthquakes.
  • From the earthquakes point of view, very high risk areas in India are the Himalayan Mountains, Northeastern India, Kachchh, West Coast around Ratnagiri and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The high risk areas are the Ganga plains and western Rajasthan. While the earthquakes cannot be stopped or accurately predicted but structures can be designed which can safely resist and negotiate the actions of earthquake-ground motion. The study of earthquake resistant structures has now grown into a multi-disciplinary field of engineering.

CONSEQUENCES OF EARTHQUAKES

  • Topographic Effects: Topographical effects are seen in the form of fault, fissures, scarps, elevation and depression of coasts, etc. Earthquakes are often followed by landslides in hilly areas. Snow avalanches and Earth avalanches (dry Earth and rocks) scatter to far off places. New waterfalls and streams are also created. Sometimes, river courses too are changed.
  • Loss of Life and Property: An earthquake becomes hazard or disaster only when it strikes the populated area. There is devastating loss, of property if the
    magnitude of the earthquake is more than 5 on the Richter Scale. Damage to houses

and buildings, especially dense localities cause great human casualty. Damage to civic services such as communication systems of roads, railways, airports, telephone, energy transmission lines, fuel and oil, water supply and sewage may result. Fire results from short circuits, contact of live electrical wires, etc.

REDUCING THE EFFECTS OF EARTHQUAKES

While research into prediction of earthquake by scientific methods and natural indicators is going on, preparedness for earthquakes is best option to reduce its effects. The norms about earthquake resistant houses and buildings need to be strictly implemented, particularly in high risk seismic zones. People should be trained in safely rules to follow during and after earthquake. Post-earthquake the codes of National Disaster Management Authority should be followed.

CYCLONES | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

  • Cyclones are caused by atmospheric disturbances around a low-pressure area distinguished by swift and often destructive air circulation. Cyclones are usually accompanied by violent storms and bad weather. The air circulates inward in an anticlockwise direction in the Northern hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern hemisphere. Cyclones are classified as: (i) extra tropical cyclones (also called temperate cyclones); and (ii) tropical cyclones. India being a tropical country faces tropical cyclones. Tropical cyclone is a low pressure centre and is surrounded by closed isobars wherein winds move towards centre with velocity ranging between 40 to 120 km/hr. Tropical cyclone is like a heat engine which is energized by the latent heat of condensation. Generally they are formed due to development of low pressure of thermal origin. They develop when following requirements are fulfilled —
  • There should be continuous supply of abundant warm and moist air. Thus they originate in summer over tropical oceans having warm water of at least 27°
  • Higher value of Coriolis force as in tropical regions.
  • Pre-existing weak tropical disturbances;
  • Anticyclone above tropical cyclone to suck in the rising air of cyclone.

STRUCTURE | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

  • A cyclone has central calm area called as ‘eye’ where weather is quiet. Surrounding this, there is a zone of strong winds with clouds extending vertically, called as ‘cloud wail’ zone. The cyclone moves forward at an average speed of 20 km/hr. As soon as cyclone moves over the land, its energy starts decreasing because of absence of sea water. This leads to death of a cyclone. A tropical cyclone generally lasts for 5-7 days. The average rainfall by a cyclone amounts to about 50-100 cm.
  • In India the destructive effect of cyclonic storms is seen in coastal districts of peninsula. Bay of Bengal coast is more prone than Arabian Sea coast. Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Gujarat are most vulnerable States. Also maximum cyclones are generated – October-November period followed by May-June period. Out of approximately six cyclones formed every year, 2-3 may be severe. The maximum destruction occurs within 100 km from the centre of cyclone and on the right side of the storm track. Maximum casualties are
  • caused by coastal inundation by high tidal waves called storm surges. Maximum penetration of severe storm surge is 10 to 20 km inland from the coast. Torrential rainfall and floods come next in devastation. They cause much of the loss of life and property. Gales and strong winds cause relatively less damage. The collapse of buildings, falling tees, flying debris, electrocution, rain, aircraft accidents and diseases from contaminated food and water in the post cyclone period cause huge damage. Every year at least one severe cyclone landfalls on Indian coast and causes serious damage. E.g. Cyclone Aila, Nilofar, Phylin, Hudhud, etc.

MANAGEMENT DURING CYCLONE

  • Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) assisted by Cyclone Warning Centres and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) releases time to time warnings about the direction of movement and intensity of cyclones. The National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) is a pioneer project drawn up by Ministry of Home Affairs with the purpose of creating suitable infrastructure to mitigate the effects of cyclones in the coastal states of India in a sustainable way. The project has identified 13 cyclone-prone States and Union Territories, with varying levels of vulnerability. These States/UTs have further been classified into two categories; based on the frequency of occurrence of cyclones, size of population and the existing institutional mechanism for disaster management.

THESE CATEGORIES ARE:

  • Category I: Higher vulnerability States i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
  • Category II: Lower vulnerability States i.e. Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Daman & Diu, Pondicherry, Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

THE KEY OBJECTIVES OF THE NCRMP ARE:

  • Reduction in vulnerability of coastal states through creation of appropriate infrastructure which can help mitigate the adverse impacts of cyclones, while preserving the ecological balance of a coastal region.
  • Strengthening of cyclone warning systems enabling quick and effective dissemination of warning and advisories from source/district/sub-district level to the relevant communities.

PROJECT COMPONENTS | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

Based on the above objectives, the project has been divided into four components, namely:

  • Last Mile Connectivity for the dissemination of cyclone warnings and advisories from district/sub-district level to communities.
  • Construction of physical infrastructure for cyclone risk mitigation.
  • Technical assistance for capacity building on hazard risk management.
  • Project management & monitoring applicable to all implementing agencies.

ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES

  • Construction of cyclone shelters
  • Construction of missing road links and bridges
  • Construction of saline embankments and coastal canals to stop saline ingress to coastal land — also during the cyclone period, due to heavy rain in coastal areas, the coastal rivers cause high floods, far more exceeding the carrying capacity of the channels.
  • Shelter belt plantations and mangrove plantation/regeneration – The shelterbelt trees can protect a patch of landward area of a width 20 times their height. Raising shelterbelt plantations with Casuarina, Keya (Pandanus), Cashew (where possible) on eastern coasts; Raising shelterbelt plantations with Casuarina, Prosopis, Tamarix on the western coast.
  • Construction of communication tower.

CLOUDBURST/THUNDERSTORMS

  • Thunderstorms are local storms characterized by swift upward movement of air and heavy rainfall with cloud thunder and lighting. Because of heavy downpour associated with thunderstorms they are also called as ‘Cloudburst’. They are considered as special case of convective mechanism.
  • Cloudburst are very common in the Himalayan region, Odisha and Central and western India. Western Ghats and West coast also experience occasional cloudbursts. In Himachal Pradesh cloudbursts are quite frequent. N 26 July 2005, Mumbai received 994 mm rainfall just in 24 hours by a cloudburst. Mumbai never experienced such high rainfall in last 500 years as per IMD. In August 2010 Ladakh too experienced similar severe cloudburst destroying the mud houses of its cities like Leh. The Shrinagar floods of Jammu and Kashmir in 2014 involved cloudburst as one of the causes.

LANDSLIDES | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

  • Landslide is a rapid movement of rock, soil and vegetation down the slope under the influence of gravity. Landslides are triggered by heavy rainfall and earthquakes, particularly on steep mountains. They can also result when the base of slopes over-steepened by excavation or river erosion. Man breaks rocks for constructing roads, railways, buildings, tunnels, mines, etc. In such cases rocks become loose and landslide occurs. On the other hand, natural removal of soil and rock from slopes is known as mass wasting.
  • A major cause which triggers off landslide is the weight of the overlying material and the presence of lubricating material like water in the soil of slope. This is known as solifluction. Landslides occur frequently during the rains. Deforestation as a result of felling of trees and removal of vegetation cover for developmental activities are also responsible for soil erosion and destabilization of slopes. Overall it is common in Western Ghats, Himalayan foothills and North-eastern Hills. Malin village in Pune saw one of the worst landslide tragedy recently in 2014 burying the whole village.
  • In view of challenges caused by landslides, the ‘National Landslide Risk Mitigation Project’ (NLRMP)       has been proposed to be launched. It aims at mapping landslide prone
    areas, strengthening the structural and non-structural landslide mitigation efforts, reducing the landslide risk and vulnerability in the hilly districts prone to landslides and mud flows and minimize the risks arising out of disasters in landslides.

DAMAGES BY LANDSLIDES

Landslides often cause loss of lives and destruction of houses and terraced fields. The road network remains closed for long periods halting traffic and supply of essential commodities to hilly areas. Sometimes, water courses are also choked by debris.

MITIGATION STRATEGIES | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

Hazard mapping i.e. locating landslide prone areas increasing vegetation cover is cheapest and most effective measure. Retaining walls can be built along road side to stop debris from falling such as along Konkan Railway Line.

AVALANCHES

Avalanche denotes hurtling down of snow, ice and rock_ down a mountain slope. In India, snowy regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal are prone to avalanches. Avalanches cause loss of lives and property by straight away burying them.

TSUNAMI | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

  • Tsunami is a series of waves created when a body of water such as ocean is rapidly displaced. Earthquakes, volcanic eruption, large meteorites or asteroid impact or testing of nuclear weapons in the sea have potential to generate tsunami. The term tsunami comes from Japanese words ‘tsu’ meaning harbour and `narni’ meaning wave. A Tsunami has much smaller amplitude (wave height) offshore and a very large wavelength which is why they are unnoticed at sea; but the case becomes reverse on shore. During undersea, earthquake, plate boundaries abruptly deform and vertically displace the overlying water, thus generating tsunami.
  • In 2004, eastern coast of India particularly Tamil Nadu experienced tsunami whose epicenter was noted near Bali, Indonesia. It caused tremendous loss of lives and property. It is not possible to prevent tsunami but Tsunami Warning Centres have been established worldwide. Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) releases tsunami warning. Mangroves and tree plantation along coast are the most effective mitigating measure against tsunami.

FOREST FIRES

Forests face many hazards but the most common is fire. They pose a threat not only to forest wealth but to entire fauna and flora seriously disturbing the biodiversity and ecology and environment of the region. Forest fires are usually seasonal, during summer. But sometimes, they are triggered by human’s actions also. The successive five year plans have provided funds for forest fire fighting.

EPIDEMICS | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

Infectious diseases are a major public health problem in India. While many infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria are endemic, some of them occasionally attain epidemic proportion. An `epidemic’ refers to an increase, often sudden, in number of cases of a disease in a community clearly in excess of what is normally expected in that population. E.g. Epidemic of Ebola in Africa and Swine flu in India, in 2014-15. Epidemics are public health emergencies which disrupt routine health services and are major drain on resources. Epidemics include viral infections disease (meningitis, measles, dengue, polio, typhoid fever etc.) and bacterial infectious diseases (cholera, diarrhoea etc.)

CAUSES

  • The main causes for epidemic are non-availability of clean and hygienic drinking water, contamination of drinking water sources, lack of awareness about sanitation, unhygienic food, overcrowding and biological conditions. Besides, ecological factors such as transitional period between two seasons increase the incidence of epidemics. Besides direct costs in epidemic control measures and treatment of patients, the indirect costs due to negative impact on domestic and international tourism and trade can be significant. For example, plague which was not reported from any part of India for almost a quarter of century, caused a major outbreak in Beed district in Maharashtra and Surat in Gujarat in 1994 and resulted in an estimated loss of almost US$ 1.7 billion.
  • Several factors related to microbes, environment and host susceptibility contribute to the occurrence of epidemics. Because of prevalence of these factors, developing countries including India are frequently affected by epidemics/ outbreaks which result in high morbidity and mortality and affect the public health and economy adversely.

 

MANAGEMENT | NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS

  • Management involves in general following issues:
  • Identification of the outbreak,
  • Identification of causative agent of the disease,
  • Establishing adequate diagnostic facilities spread across the regions,
  • Containment of the point source,
  • Treating infected persons and quarantining suspect patients,
  • Equipping the public and private hospitals for diagnosis and treatment and issuing requisite guidelines for the same,
  • Establishing an efficient surveillance and reporting system,
  • Public awareness campaign,
  • International co-ordination
  • It is impossible to always prevent epidemics, but its impact can always be mitigated by anticipating them and by being prepared. Epidemic preparedness and response is a multi-sectoral and multi-agency activity. Health sector plays a lead role in preparing and executing the epidemic preparedness plan but need the expertise and support of other disciplines/sectors also. Planning process will inter alia require extensive review of health infrastructure, disease surveillance and response system, availability of laboratories, trained professionals, drugs, vaccines and equipment in the country, communication system, coordinating mechanism between different sectors and between the national and international agencies and legal issues. Outbreaks are reported by States under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP). It was launched in 2004 to strengthen capacity at state/district levels to detect and respond to the epidemics in early rising phase. Under the project, the district and states have been strengthened by providing additional technical manpower (epidemiologists, microbiologists, entomologists), training of rapid response teams for outbreak investigation and control, strengthening of laboratories for detection of organisms causing epidemic prone diseases, and establishment of IT network for data compilation, dissemination and analysis. The states are at varying stages of implementation.
  • Ministry of Health & Family Welfare is instrumental and responsible for implementation of various programmes on a national scale in the areas of prevention and control of major communicable diseases and promotion of traditional and indigenous systems of medicines. This ministry also assists states in preventing and controlling the spread of seasonal disease outbreaks and epidemics through technical assistance. It is actively involved in disease diagnosis during epidemics and outbreaks, operational research, manpower development, advisory role and other multifarious activities towards prevention and control of a cascade of epidemic prone disease of larger public health importance in collaboration with National Institute of Communicable Disease (NICD) and external organisations and institutes.
  • National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme (NVBDCP) is the key programme for prevention/control of outbreaks/epidemics of malaria, dengue, chikungunya, influenza (flu), etc.; vaccines administered to reduce the morbidity and mortality due to diseases like measles, diphtheria, pertussis, poliomyelitis etc. Two key measures to prevent/control epidemics of water-borne diseases like cholera, viral hepatitis etc. include making available safe water and ensuring personal and domestic hygienic practices are adopted. The draft Public Health (Prevention, Control and Management of Epidemics, Bio-terrorism and Disasters) Bill prepared by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare is under consideration for enactment

 

 

 

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