6. Care of populations with special needs

  • Share

atencion poblacion necesidadDisasters cause human, material, and economic losses, and bring about enormous suffering in the population as a result of the losses. The emotional impact often is more intense in vulnerable population groups, and recovery can take a long time.

In the most vulnerable populations, people have special needs; they may be disabled, mentally ill, elderly, children, adolescents, have chronic diseases, or be pregnant. Recommendations on the specific needs of these groups can be found on the link.

From a mental health perspective, it has been demonstrated that the effects of the disasters on population groups with special needs are different in their manifestation and intensity. Thus, psychological support activities should be designed for each particular group. See chapter 9 of the publication on mental health and psychosocial support in disaster situations.

The preparedness phase should include the development of specific plans for people with special needs, and family members and the community should be involved providing support for these vulnerable groups. The local or community level is the most appropriate setting in which to develop a set of general measures for vulnerable groups and incorporate them in preparedness and response plans. The following are major activities to be done:

  • A census to identify people with special challenges.
  • Collaboration with municipal authorities to create a registry of people who have physical or mental challenges, or who are elderly, classifying people according to their individual capacities and specific needs.
  • Promoting training activities for people with special needs to enable them to meet some of their own needs in an emergency insofar as their particular abilities permit. See the results of the first ever UN global survey of persons living with disabilities.
  • Preparing a directory of the entities and organizations that have primary responsibility for providing care to people with special challenges, and conducting training for support activities in disasters.
  • Identifying groups of volunteers and organizations interested in providing support to people with special physical or mental needs, and to frail older adults who live alone and lack primary caregivers.
  • Promoting the creation of support networks.
  • Promoting the creation of specific plans for the evacuation of older adults and people who will face special physical or mental challenges in emergencies.
  • Contributing to the creation of temporary shelters and camps to care for people with physical or mental challenges, and providing care for older persons, and establishing health care services with trained staff at the temporary shelters and camps.
  • Promoting the creation of a bank of mechanical and electronic aids to meet specific needs (progressive lenses, hearing aids, oxygen tanks, room humidifiers, canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, etc.).

The American Red Cross offers recommendations on emergency preparedness for people with disabilities as well as to those requiring medical care. 

Go to: Chemical and radiological emergenciessiguiente leermas