The 2015 Nepal Earthquake(s): Lessons Learned From the Disability and Rehabilitation Sector's Preparation for, and Response to, Natural Disasters

Author/s: Michel D. Landry, Phillip S. Sheppard, Kit Leung, Chiara Retis, Edwin C. Salvador, Sudha R. Raman
Language: English
Publication Type: Scientific Report (Journal)(External)

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The frequency of natural disasters appears to be mounting at an alarming rate, and the degree to which people are surviving such traumatic events also is increasing. Post-disaster survival often triggers increases in population and individual disability-related outcomes in the form of impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions, all of which have an important impact on the individual, his or her family, and their community. The increase in postdisaster disability-related outcomes has provided a rationale for the increased role of the disability and rehabilitation sector's involvement in emergency response, including physical therapists. A recent major earthquake that has drawn the world's attention occurred in the spring of 2015 in Nepal. The response of the local and international communities was large and significant, and although the collection of complex health and disability issues have yet to be fully resolved, there has been a series of important lessons learned from the 2015 Nepal earthquake(s). This perspective article outlines lessons learned from Nepal that can be applied to future disasters to reduce overall disability-related outcomes and more fully integrate rehabilitation in preparation and planning. First, information is presented on disasters in general, and then information is presented that focuses on the earthquake(s) in Nepal. Next, field experience in Nepal before, during, and after the earthquake is described, and actions that can and should be adopted prior to disasters as part of disability preparedness planning are examined. Then, the emerging roles of rehabilitation providers such as physical therapists during the immediate and postdisaster recovery phases are discussed. Finally, approaches are suggested that can be adopted to “build back better” for, and with, people with disabilities in postdisaster settings such as Nepal.

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Physical Therapy