Disaster Rehabilitation Response Plan: Now or Never

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2020 Feb;99(2):170-177. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001308.


There is a strong consensus among humanitarian response authorities for a need for global action by professional organizations to work toward developing a structured approach to provide a coordinated international response during sudden-onset disasters. The aim of this report was to develop a Disaster Rehabilitation Response Plan to enable International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine to provide leadership and governance role in liaison/coordination with the WHO emergency medical team initiative and other relevant stakeholders to provide rehabilitation input during sudden-onset disasters. The proposed plan uses a "three-tier approach": tier 1, immediate disaster response at a national/international level; tier 2, organization and deployment of rehabilitation personnel; and tier 3, rehabilitation management of disaster survivors and community reintegration. The International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (and its subcommittee, the Disaster Rehabilitation Committee), categorized in the tier 2, could provide central leadership role working for the rehabilitation subcluster within the WHO emergency medical team initiative (tier 1) and support in coordination, preparation, and management of rehabilitation teams and/or members for deployment to sudden-onset disasters. The Disaster Rehabilitation Committee could also contribute to advocacy, training, and accreditation processes for rehabilitation professionals. The challenge ahead is commitment of countries worldwide to develop comprehensive rehabilitation-inclusive approach to ensure effective delivery of services to communities at risk.

MeSH terms

  • Disaster Planning*
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine*
  • World Health Organization