The severity of a disaster is typically measured in terms of direct morbidity and mortality. However, a new article co-authored by Woodrow Wilson Public Policy Scholar, Fredrick Burkle, highlights the need to account for the indirect consequences. Death and illness due to the devastation of public health and other infrastructure, displacement, poor and overcrowded living conditions, food insecurity, and disrupted livelihoods are often overlooked, but tend to surpass the direct losses, the authors of "Impact of Public Health Emergencies on Modern Disaster Taxonomy, Planning, and Response," contend. The article, featured in Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, argues that classifying disasters based on their short- and long-term public health effects can better enable governments and health service professionals to plan for and respond to public health emergencies. Furthermore, establishing surveillance systems to detect the indirect effects is critical to understanding and maintaining health.

Fredrick Burkle will discuss public health management in the wake of natural disasters at a Global Health Initiative event on June 17, 2008. Click here for more information.