The Role of Environmental Health in Understanding and Mitigating Postdisaster Noncommunicable Diseases: The Critical Need for Improved Interdisciplinary Solutions


Improvements in life expectancy and changes in lifestyle have contributed to a “disease transition” from communicable to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Damage to public health infrastructure (PHI), such as sanitation and water, places people with NCDs at risk of disease exacerbation or even death. We propose the interdisciplinary characteristics of environmental health (EH) and the indirect, but vital, role in maximizing treatment and care for people with NCDs demonstrates the profession is an essential resource for addressing this problem. To explore this proposal, five focus groups were conducted with 55 EH professionals in Queensland, Australia. Relationships were identified between NCD exacerbation and PHI, such as power, sanitation, services, supplies, and water. Preparedness and response activities should focus on this priority PHI, which will require EH professionals to be part of interdisciplinary solutions. Recognizing this role will help protect the health of people with NCDs during and after a disaster.

Speaker / Author: 
Benjamin J. Ryan, MPH, James Cook University, Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
Richard C. Franklin, MSocSc, PhD, James Cook University, World Safety Organization, Royal Life Saving Society
Frederick M. Burkle, Jr., MPH, MD, DTM, FAAP, FACEP, James Cook University, Harvard School of Public Health
Erin C Smith, MClinEpi, MPH, PhD, James Cook University, Edith Cowan University
Peter Aitken, MClinEd, DrPH, MBBS, FACEM, EMDM, James Cook University
Kerrianne Watt, PhD, James Cook University
Peter A. Leggat, MD, DrPH, PhD, James Cook University, World Safety Organization, Flinders University
Month Year: 
December 2017
Page #: 
Publication Month: 
December 2017
EH Topics: