Disasters, women's health, and conservative society: working in Pakistan with the Turkish Red Crescent following the South Asian Earthquake

Prehosp Disaster Med. 2007 Jul-Aug;22(4):269-73. doi: 10.1017/s1049023x00004842.


In recent years, numerous catastrophic disasters caused by natural hazards directed worldwide attention to medical relief efforts. These events included the: (1) 2003 earthquake in Bam, Iran; (2) 2004 earthquake and tsunami in Southeast Asia; (3) Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the southern United States in 2005; (4) 2005 south Asian earthquake; and (5) 2006 Indonesian volcanic eruption and earthquakes. Health disparities experienced by women during relief operations were a component of each of these events. This article focuses on the response of the Turkish Red Crescent Society's field hospital in northern Pakistan following the South Asian Earthquake of October 2005, and discusses how the international community has struggled to address women's health issues during international relief efforts. Furthermore, since many recent disasters occurred in culturally conservative South Asia and the local geologic activity indicates similar disaster-producing events are likely to continue, special emphasis is placed on response efforts. Lessons learned in Pakistan demonstrate how simple adjustments in community outreach, camp geography, staff distribution, and supplies can enhance the quality, delivery, and effectiveness of the care provided to women during international relief efforts.

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Cultural Competency
  • Disaster Planning / organization & administration*
  • Disasters*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Hospitals, Packaged*
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Islam / psychology
  • Pakistan / epidemiology
  • Red Cross / organization & administration*
  • Relief Work / organization & administration*
  • Relief Work / standards
  • Religion and Medicine
  • Turkey
  • Women's Health / ethnology*