Franco (2007) argued that the occurrence of disasters calls for emergency teams to respond immediately. Disasters occurring destroys critical infrastructures including communication systems, transport systems, and predispose the public to health-related risks. Consequently, the public health and preparedness team would experience challenges that would hamper the delivery of health services to the affected people.
In the United States, the department of homeland security and other stakeholders have been faced with several challenges of logistics and transportation during disasters. Given that there have been several disasters in the United States, just like other parts of the world, the public health teams have not been able to serve all the affected individuals due to the transport challenges.
According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2009), the roles of the public health in emergency response include preventing epidemics, prevent environmental hazards, prevent injuries, and facilitate the recovery of the affected individuals.
Health service providers are faced with the challenge of deciding whether to evacuate or not during and after the disaster.
For instance, during the Hurricane Katrina in the United States, the hospital and nursing administrators attending to the affected individuals could not decide on the best option to deal with the situation; they could not reach a consensus of whether to evacuate or remain in the field where it was risky. The ground emergency teams had shelters for the affected individuals.
The main reason behind the challenge of deciding whether to evacuate or not is due to the poor communication between the federal and states emergency teams.
The lines of communication and transport were greatly hampered and thus leaving the public health preparedness team with lesser options in the field. Health administrators lacked the transport vehicles and other useful modes that could accommodate all the needs of the patients at the affected areas. While some could receive means of transport such as ambulances and buses, some areas remained inaccessible. The health officers and rescue teams could not easily reach to the people in the affected areas (Bascetta, 2006).
In 2011, Japan was hit by an earthquake and tsunami. The earthquake was one of the biggest ever recorded in the history of Japan, and it affected wider areas (WHO, 2017). Just like in the United States Hurricane Katrina, the Japan Earthquake affected the health facilities. A big difference is noted between the two nations. In Japan, the coastal areas had four hospitals used as disaster base, and fortunately enough, these hospitals escaped the earthquake. The medical emergency teams navigated the affected areas using the helicopters which made it easier for them to reach disaster-stricken people in inaccessible grounds.
The public health emergency teams depend various means of transport to move to and from the disaster-stricken areas. Disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes destroy communication and transport lines thus hampering the relay of information and movements. In the United States, during the Hurricane Katrina, roads were destroyed, and electric power was lost. Subsequently, the health administrators could not move freely and offer the much-needed services.
The federal government and state government could not coordinate well to evacuate the people. The available means of transport in different hospitals could not handle the large number of people affected (Bascetta, 2006). During the 2011 earthquake in Japan, the same challenge was witnessed since roads were destroyed by the earthquake make some areas unreachable by road. The health providers could not reach the people easily.
Medical services were offered by the local emergency teams but receiving reinforcement on time was impossible since roads and rail transport was no longer safe and reliable. This left the medical teams with the option of using the helicopters to move into the affected areas. However, this means of transport is expensive and less reliable since it can ferry a few people at a time (WHO, 2017).
In the United States, the occurrence of earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes has always rendered the affected individuals vulnerable to epidemics such as cholera. The above disasters destroy drainage systems and waterways and may result in the contamination or water resulting in water-borne diseases such cholera which is deleterious in disaster-affected areas. The destruction of waterways and drainage is a common problem in both United States and Japan.
From the above problems, related to the public health preparedness and emergency in cases of disasters, it is important to have disaster mitigation strategies that would see to it that the citizens are safe during disasters. Disasters have negative impacts on human beings, and thus emergency teams in every disaster-prone nation should always get prepared by taking heed of any warnings issued on the likelihood of a disaster. Moreover, the public health preparedness team should secure alternative means of transport such as helicopters that are fully owned and operated by the emergency teams.
From the two cases of the United States and Japan, it can be concluded that most countries in the world are not prepared for disasters. These are countries with stable economies that would support emergency programs but they seem not to be ready for the same.