Developing a health system approach to disaster management: A qualitative analysis of the core literature to complement the WHO Toolkit for assessing health-system capacity for crisis management

PLoS Curr. 2012 Aug 22;4:e5028b6037259a. doi: 10.1371/5028b6037259a.

Abstract

BACKGROUND The World Health Organisation's (WHO) sixty-fourth World Health Assembly in May 2011 adopted a resolution on 'strengthening national health emergency and disaster management capacities and resilience of health systems'. Disaster management is a topical issue globally and countries are being encouraged to improve their disaster preparedness, along with growing international commitment to strengthening health systems. Lessons identified from disasters have not been effectively collated; essential experience is forgotten. METHODS This paper describes the analysis of the worldwide experience of disasters through a health systems approach. A systematic search of the core literature from January 2000 to November 2011 was conducted. Components drawn from the WHO's Global assessment of national health sector emergency preparedness and response baseline survey were combined with WHO's six health system building blocks (or levers) to act as the initial analysis anchors, with a further grounded theory qualitative analysis of the literature allowing the identification of emerging themes and insights. The priority areas identified by this literature review were then compared with the topics covered by the new expert-consensus-derived Toolkit for assessing health-system capacity for crisis management developed by the WHO Regional Office for Europe. FINDINGS 143 publications identified from a literature search were analysed and appraised. Themes and examples from the literature demonstrate how health system strengthening should contribute to disaster management. Priority areas under-represented in the WHO Toolkit and identified by the qualitative analysis are discussed. INTERPRETATION Collation and analysis of the disaster management literature identifies how health system strengthening can promote resilience and efficient recovery in the face of disasters. These findings support and complement the WHO Toolkit. Countries can use the literature evidence with the WHO Toolkit to assess their disaster management capacities and identify priorities for strengthening their health system.

Citation: Bayntun C, Rockenschaub G, Murray V. Developing a health system approach to disaster management: A qualitative analysis of the core literature to complement the WHO Toolkit for assessing health-system capacity for crisis management. PLOS Currents Disasters. 2012 Aug 22. doi: 10.1371/5028b6037259a.