Health impacts of large-scale floods: governmental decision-making and resilience of the citizens

Prehosp Disaster Med. 2008 Jul-Aug;23(4):s70-3. doi: 10.1017/s1049023x00021282.


During the 15th World Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine in Amsterdam, May 2007 (15WCDEM), a targeted agenda program (TAP) about the public health aspects of large-scale floods was organized. The main goal of the TAP was the establishment of an overview of issues that would help governmental decision-makers to develop policies to increase the resilience of the citizens during floods. During the meetings, it became clear that citizens have a natural resistance to evacuations. This results in death due to drowning and injuries. Recently, communication and education programs have been developed that may increase awareness that timely evacuation is important and can be life-saving. After a flood, health problems persist over prolonged periods, including increased death rates during the first year after a flood and a higher incidence of chronic illnesses that last for decades after the flood recedes. Population-based resilience (bottom-up) and governmental responsibility (top-down) must be combined to prepare regions for the health impact of evacuations and floods. More research data are needed to become better informed about the health impact and consequences of translocation of health infrastructures after evacuations. A better understanding of the consequences of floods will support governmental decision-making to mitigate the health impact. A top-10 priority action list was formulated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Climate
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Decision Making*
  • Disaster Planning*
  • Floods*
  • Government*
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Public Health Practice*