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BACKGROUND: Over the last 100 years, China has experienced the world's three most fatal earthquakes. The Sichuan Earthquake in May 2008 once again reminded us of the huge human toll geological disaster can lead to. METHODS: In order to learn lessons about the impact of earthquakes on health in China during the past century, we conducted a bilingual literature search of the publicly available health-related disaster databases published between 1906 and 2007. RESULTS: Our search found that research was limited and there were major gaps in the published literature about the impact on health in the post-earthquake period. However, the experiences recorded were similar to those of other parts of the world. The available studies provide useful information about preparedness and rapid early response. Gaps identified included care of chronic disease. CONCLUSION: Our literature review highlights the paucity of literature on the impact on health post-earthquake in China between 1906 and 2007. Disaster mitigation policies need to reflect the needs not only of the disaster-related impacts on health but also of the ongoing health needs of the chronically ill and to establish safeguards for the well-being of the vulnerable populations.

Original publication




Journal article


J Public Health (Oxf)

Publication Date





52 - 61


China, Disasters, Earthquakes, Health Status, History, 20th Century, Humans