Health impact and risk factors affecting women in south and southeast Asia following disasters caused by natural hazards

Added March 2, 2022

Citation: Fatema SR, East L, Islam MS, et al. Health impact and risk factors affecting south and southeast Asian women following natural disasters: a systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021;18(21):11068.

Language: Abstract and full text available in EN.

Free to view: Yes.

Funding sources: The authors reported that they received no external funding.

What is this? Disasters caused by natural hazards usually lead to a higher incidence and prevalence of adverse physical and mental health outcome for women than for men.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for studies of risk factors and physical and mental health outcomes following disasters caused by natural hazards in women in south and southeast Asia. They restricted their searches to articles published in English between July 2008 and March 2021. They included 16 studies, most of which were judged to be of high quality. All the studies were done in lower-middle-income countries: Bangladesh (1 study), India (2), Indonesia (2), Nepal (6 studies), Pakistan (4) and Sri Lanka (1) and focused on the consequences of earthquakes (12 studies), tsunamis (3) or cyclones (1).

What was found: High incidences of pelvic fractures and inflammation were reported among women after earthquakes, leading to loss of mobility, dependence on others and poorer quality of life.

Post-disaster mental health was poorer in women who had no formal education, lived in poverty, had poor physical health or suffered from physical injuries, and whose family members died during the disaster.

Post-traumatic symptoms were generally found to be worse for those with physical injury and those whose family members died during the disaster.

Implications: The authors of the review concluded that enhanced communication plans need to be developed for disaster-prone residents in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) who need free access to health information and facilities. They also stated that future health policy and disaster management consultants should consider how best to address various health problems and risk factors effectively, and that the risk factors identified in the review should be considered when developing strategies to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing of women after disasters, especially in LMICs.

Other considerations: The authors of the review discussed their findings in the context of place of residence, sex and socioeconomic status.



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