Introduction: Disaster epidemiological studies indicate that Asia has the highest frequency of natural disasters. Rural communities are heavily impacted by natural disasters and have different healthcare needs to urban ones. Referencing Asian countries, this paper's objective is to provide an overview of health impacts and the current evidence for designing programmes and policies related to rural health emergency and disaster risk management (health-EDRM).
Sources of data: This paper uses published English-only reports and papers retrieved from PubMed, Google Scholar, Embase, Medline and PsycINFO on rural disaster and emergency responses and relief, health impact and disease patterns in Asia (January 2000-January 2018).
Areas of agreement: Earthquakes are the most studied natural disasters in rural communities. The medical burden and health needs of rural communities were most commonly reported among populations of extreme age. Most of the existing research evidence for rural interventions was reported in China. There lacks published peer-reviewed reports of programme impacts on personal and community preparedness.
Areas of controversy: There is a lack of evidence-based health-EDRM interventions to evaluate implementation effectiveness in rural areas despite vast volumes of health-related disaster literature.
Growing points: Climate change-related disasters are increasing in frequency and severity. Evidence is needed for disaster risk reduction interventions to address the health risks specific to rural populations.
Areas timely for developing research: To support global policy development, urgent evidence is needed on the intervention effectiveness, long-term health outcomes, local and cultural relevance as well as sustainability of health relief produced by Health-EDRM programmes in rural areas.
Keywords: Asia; Disaster preparedness; disaster risk reduction; health-EDRM; natural disasters; rural health.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.