Why are older peoples' health needs forgotten post-natural disaster relief in developing countries? A healthcare provider survey of 2005 Kashmir, Pakistan earthquake.
Although older people may be recognized as a vulnerable group post-natural disasters, their particular needs are rarely met by the providers of emergency services. Studies about older people's health needs post disasters in the South East Asia Tsunami, Kashmir, Pakistan, China, and United States has revealed the lack of concern for older people's health needs. Recent study of older people's health needs post the Kashmir Pakistan earthquake (2005) found older peoples' health needs were masked within the general population. This survey study examines the providers' perceptions of older people's vulnerabilities post-2005 Pakistan earthquake. It aims to understand the awareness of geriatric issues and issues related to current service provision/planning for older people's health needs post disasters. Specifically, service delivery patterns will be compared among different relief agencies. Cross-sectional, structured stakeholder interviews were conducted within a 2 weeks period in February 2006, 4 months post-earthquake in Pakistan-administrated Kashmir. Health/medical relief agencies of three different types of organizational nature: international nongovernmental organization (INGO), national organization, and local/community group were solicited to participate in the study. Descriptive analysis was conducted. Important issues identified include the need to sensitize relief and health workers about older people's health needs post disaster the development of relevant clinical guidelines for chronic disease management postdisaster in developing countries and the advocacy of building in geriatric related components in natural disaster medical relief programs. To effectively address the vulnerability of older people, it is important for governments, relief agencies, and local partners to include and address these issues during their relief operations and policy planning.