Characteristics and health outcomes of internally displaced population in unofficial rural self-settled camps after the 2005 Kashmir, Pakistan earthquake.
Chan EYY., Kim JJ.
OBJECTIVES: No published study, to date, has examined the characteristics and health outcomes of natural disaster-affected populations in unofficial rural self-settled internally displaced camps. By examining resident profiles in various unofficial rural displaced settlements after the 2005 Kashmir, Pakistan earthquake, this study aims to (i) describe the demographic and epidemiological characteristics of residents, (ii) compare their health outcomes with those of residents in official displaced camps, and (iii) highlight health needs and discuss implications for future disaster health relief operations. METHODS: A cross-sectional, cluster-sampling, face-to-face household survey was conducted in 167 households in various forms of internally displaced camps within a 185 km radius around Muzafarabad city 4 months after the 2005 Kashmir, Pakistan earthquake. Demographic characteristics, earthquake damage, and self-reported health outcomes were collected from these camps, and descriptive statistics were determined and chi significance comparison conducted. RESULTS: Significant differences in demographic characteristics and health outcomes were found according to the size of the unofficial internally displaced camps. Although residents of larger unofficial self-settled camps seemed to have similar characteristics and health outcomes to residents of official camps, those living in smaller unofficial camps had the largest average family size; received the least assistance and resources to sustain livelihood; had less access to information, medical service, and chronic disease medication for underlying medical problems; and worse self-reported health outcomes. CONCLUSION: The study results indicate that future post-earthquake medical relief operations should evaluate health needs and consider delivery of direct medical assistance to small unofficial self-settled camps in affected rural communities.