Disasters pose great challenges for the health system because of their physical, psychosocial and economic impacts on communities, and in disrupting a system that already has significant demands on its resources. The health system is large and complex and is comprised of a range of disciplines that all act to ensure community wellbeing across Australia.
The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) has published a revised Health and Disaster Management Handbook that provides guidance on national principles and practices for health management in disasters in Australia.
This handbook outlines the core principles and concepts that underpin how the health system can develop plans to reduce the effects and level of disruption to communities in Australia before, during and after disasters. Concepts such as risk, resilience, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery are considered. The challenges of areas such as law, ethics, communications and inclusion are also covered. Additionally, the handbook goes through the Australian Health Emergency Response Arrangements (Department of Health and Ageing 2011) to assist in planning and preparedness at all levels in the health system.
Finally, the handbook explores how parts of the health system contribute to the management of disasters, specifically, in scenarios where the health sector will be the lead, for example a pandemic or thunderstorm asthma event.