Coordination needs to be enhaced to manage disasters, say experts | Pakistan Today

Coordination needs to be enhaced to manage disasters, say experts

The experts at a seminar on ‘Role of Academia and Media in Human Disaster Management’ stressed the need of formal training and education and use of media in disaster management and humanitarian relief, on Thursday.
The seminar, held at the University of Health Sciences (UHS), was organised by the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT), in collaboration with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), UK. Addressing the inaugural session, LSTM Humanitarian Studies Director Prof Timothy O’ Dempsey said that humanitarian assistance had become a rapidly expanding, multi-billion dollar global industry with an estimated workforce of approximately 250,000 that impacted directly on the lives, livelihood, health and well-being of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people.
“The key challenges in this complex issue of humanitarian professional development require collaboration between humanitarian organisations, academic institutions, other training providers and where appropriate, national and international professional accreditation and registration bodies,” Timothy opined. With regards to the recent dengue epidemic in Punjab, Prof Timothy emphasised the need for effective early warning systems, disaster preparedness, contingency planning, disease surveillance, epidemic intelligence and response.
Chairing the session on media, Pakistan Today Editor Arif Nizami said that all public and private institutions, including educational institutions and media houses have been working for disaster management without proper coordination. Therefore, the desired results have not been produced so far. He said that the disaster management authorities such as National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) or Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) do not take on board the media houses and hence the media cannot play the role of creating awareness.
Furthermore, all media houses are commercial enterprises and hence they give more time to political discussions and less to creating awareness in this regard. He also discussed the ethical dimension of showing disaster footage on the media. NDMA Chairman Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir said that a holistic approach to pre-empt, mitigate and manage a post-disaster scenario was required as the probability of occurrence of disasters was increasing every year and South Asia was the most vulnerable to natural disasters.
UHS Vice Chancellor Prof Malik Hussain Mubbashar said that historically, disaster management in Pakistan revolved around rescue and relief. However, in view of the recent crises of dengue outbreak and adverse drug reaction, paradigm shift from relief to risk management was needed. He said that the UHS and LSTM had entered into an agreement to collaborate in devising joint strategies for promoting awareness, providing cheap and affordable preventive solution and encouraging indigenous research on tropical diseases, including tuberculosis, typhoid, hepatitis, dengue, malaria and other vector-borne diseases.
He said that University of Health Sciences in collaboration with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK, would launch a Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance from this year. ERRA chief Brig Syed Wajid Raza said that there was a need for sharing expertise and learning from past experiences. There should be scientific research and training in disaster management in which the UHS must take a lead, he added. Punjab Emergency Services (Rescue 1122) Director General Dr Rizwan Naseer said that every disaster was a wake-up call, an opportunity for the development. He said that the Punjab Emergency Services was setup when the importance of a fully-equipped, pro-active and fast disaster mitigation and response unit of trained and motivated men and women, was realised.



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