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Disaster Epidemiology: Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkmenistan Essay

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Updated: Dec 3rd, 2020

Introduction

Disaster epidemiology provides crucial data for disaster management and preparedness (Friis, 2017), which explains the importance of studying it. Indeed, as implied in the task’s question, epidemiology provides the data on risks and hazards which can be employed to develop policies and practices. In this paper, the epidemiologic data of Saudi Arabia is considered and compared to those of Israel and Turkmenistan. The paper aims to determine the differences between the disaster patterns of the countries in an attempt to link them to the information about their disaster management policies and practices.

Disaster Epidemiology

Saudi Arabia

According to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters [CRED] (n.d.), floods have been the most frequent natural disasters in Saudi Arabia between 1900 and 2018 (20 events). Three epidemics and two storms have been documented as well (see Table 1).

Table 1. Saudi Arabia: Natural Disasters (1900-2018) Based on CRED (n.d.) Information.

Disaster Type Disaster Subtype Events Count Total Deaths Total Affected Total Damage (‘000 US$)
Epidemic Bacterial disease 2 92 242 0
Epidemic Viral disease 1 76 329 0
Flood 4 66 6396 450000
Flood Flash flood 4 86 1067 0
Flood Riverine flood 12 301 24586 1202000
Storm Convective storm 2 3 122 50000

As can be seen from Table 2, epidemics and floods are the deadliest natural disasters in the country.

Table 2. Top 10 Natural Disasters (1900-2018) in Saudi Arabia Based on CRED (n.d.) Information.

Disaster No Type Date Totals Deaths
2009-0522 Flood 24.11.2009 161
2000-0592 Epidemic 11.09.2000 76
2000-0213 Epidemic 00-03-2000 57
2001-0125 Epidemic 09.02.2001 35
2005-0228 Flood 28.04.2005 34
1985-0346 Flood 24.12.1985 32
2005-0028 Flood 22.01.2005 29
2013-0159 Flood 02.05.2013 24
1964-0023 Flood 04.04.1964 20
2012-0188 Flood 14.04.2012 19

Most technological disasters in Saudi Arabia (26) are miscellaneous, 20 are transport incidents, and five are industrial accidents (see Table 3). Fire and road events are particularly frequent.

Table 3. Saudi Arabia: Technological Disasters (1900-2018) Based on CRED (n.d.) Information.

Disaster Subtype Events Count Total Death Total Affected Total damage (‘000 US$)
Disaster type: Industrial Accident
1 10 0 0
Chemical spill 1 0 0 0
Collapse 1 61 0 0
Fire 2 52 21 0
Disaster type: Miscellaneous
Collapse 4 250 569 0
Fire 14 750 2631 220
Other 8 4607 1495 0
Disaster type: Transport Accident
Air 5 739 8 0
Road 15 293 505 0

Some recent studies on disaster management in Saudi Arabia indicate that relevant policies and practices exist, but they might need improvements, including more effective and modernised disaster health management (Alraga, 2017), improved alarm systems, and better program coordination (Tambo, Fouad, & Khater, 2017). Also, there is some evidence to Saudi nurses being highly aware of the topic of disaster response, but they still report the need for additional training (Alzahrani & Yiannis, 2017).

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction [UNISDR] (n.d.b) reports that Saudi Arabia is implementing an emergency planning and protection framework (Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction). Also, disaster-related training programs are available in the country, and it participates in Global Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR, n.d.b).Thus, the problem of disaster risks, which is seen in the epidemiologic data, is acknowledged and addressed in the country through policies and practice.

Israel

According to CRED (n.d.), storms and wildfires were the most common types of disaster in Israel between 1900 and 2018 (four events each). Also, Israel has witnessed different types of floods, extreme temperatures, and one epidemic and drought (see Table 4).

Table 4. Israel: Natural Disasters (1900-2018) Based on CRED (n.d.) Information.

Disaster Type Disaster Subtype Events Count Total Deaths Total Affected Total damage (‘000 US$)
Drought Drought 1 0 0 75000
Epidemic Viral disease 1 12 139 0
Extreme temperature Cold wave 1 0 0 550000
Extreme temperature Heat wave 1 0 0 40000
Flood 1 15 0 0
Flood Flash flood 1 0 1000 0
Flood Riverine flood 1 2 0 0
Landslide Landslide 1 20 13 0
Storm 2 8 410 2750
Storm Convective storm 2 4 2003200 0
Wildfire Forest fire 3 44 20262 315000
Wildfire Land fire 1 0 60137 520000

Table 5 summarises the deadliest natural events that took place in the country.

Table 5. Deadliest Natural Disasters in Israel Based on CRED (n.d.) Information.

Disaster No Type Date Totals deaths
2010-0627 Wildfire 02.12.2010 44
1970-0071 Landslide 30.12.1970 20
1997-0250 Flood 17.10.1997 15
2000-0593 Epidemic 00-08-2000 12
1991-0552 Storm 12.12.1991 5
2013-0524 Storm 02.12.2013 4
2000-0094 Storm 19.01.2000 3
2010-0021 Flood 19.01.2010 2

The majority of reported technological disasters in Israel are concerned with transport (6 events). Two industrial incidents (fire and poisoning) and a miscellaneous collapse were also documented (see Table 6).

Table 6. Israel: Technological Disasters (1900-2018) Based on CRED (n.d.) Information.

Disaster Subtype Events Count Total Death Total Affected Total damage (‘000 US$)
Disaster type: Industrial Accident
Fire 1 0 0 37000
Poisoning 1 0 300 0
Disaster type: Miscellaneous
Collapse 2 38 269 0
Disaster type: Transport Accident
Air 1 73 0 0
Rail 2 29 200 0
Road 1 24 28 0
Water 2 40 81 0

The recent research on disasters and disaster preparedness in Israel is not very extensive. There is some evidence to a need for more training, but it is not very generalizable (Findley, Isralowitz, & Reznik, 2014). However, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (n.d.a) reports that Israel implements the Sendai Framework, hosts disaster-related conferences, and offers training programs. Thus, the policies and practice related to disaster management are present in Israel in accordance with the risks shown by the epidemiologic data.

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is relatively unsusceptible to natural disasters (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, n.d.). This statement can be supported by CRED (n.d.) data (see Table7), which indicates that only two events were recorded between 1900 and 2018 in Turkmenistan: an earthquake that led to deaths, and a flood that led to damage.

Table 7. Turkmenistan: Natural Disasters (1900-2018) Based on CRED (n.d.) Information.

Disaster Type Disaster Subtype Events Count Total Deaths Total Affected Total Damage (‘000 US$)
Earthquake Ground movement 1 11 0 0
Flood Riverine flood 1 0 420 99870

Similarly, only two technological disasters have been reported: an explosion and a road incident (see Table 8). They caused the total of 55 deaths with the latter being deadlier.

Table 8. Turkmenistan: Technological Disasters (1900-2018) Based on CRED (n.d.) Information.

Disaster Subtype Events Count Total Death Total Affected Total damage (‘000 US$)
Disaster type: Miscellaneous
Explosion 1 15 0 0
Disaster type: Transport Accident
Road 1 40 0 0

The present study found no recent studies devoted to disaster management in Turkmenistan. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (n.d.c) reports that there is no national disaster risk management platform, and only regional training programs and conferences seem to be available. However, Turkmenistan has signed a declaration that stresses the significance of disaster risk reduction (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2015). Thus, there is some relevant activity, but it does not appear very vigorous.

Comparison

Overall, the epidemiology of the three countries indicates more differences than similarities. Saudi Arabia reports more natural disasters than the rest of the countries, but Israel’s natural disasters are more diverse. The technological disasters of Saudi Arabia and Israel are similarly varied, but Saudi Arabia has reported more of them. As for Turkmenistan, it has documented very few disasters, which limits its comparability to the other two countries.

The comparison of the specific types of disasters and their patterns is complicated because the data is aggregated and there are significant differences in the number of disasters between countries. However, all the countries report transport accidents and floods. Also, based on the information from Saudi Arabia and Israel, it may be suggested that air transport disasters tend to be less numerous but deadlier than road ones (see Tables 3 and 6).

The floods and epidemics of Saudi Arabia seem to result in more deaths than those of Israel (see Tables 2 and 5). For instance, the most lethal Saudi flood resulted in 161 deaths, and the most harmful flood of Israel took 15 lives. This observation can be linked to the fact that research on Saudi Arabian disasters seems to be relatively active, which may be a response to a greater need resulting from the greater number and severity of events. It is more difficult to compare the policies and practices of Israel and Saudi Arabia, but it is apparent that both are more active in this regard than Turkmenistan, which has experienced few disasters.

Conclusion

The analysis of the three countries allows pointing out some trends. Saudi Arabia has reported more events than Israel or Turkmenistan; the latter seems to be particularly unlikely to document disasters. Also, Saudi Arabia appears to have deadlier floods and epidemics when compared to Israel. Consequently, the epidemiology of the three countries seems to coincide with their patterns of studying and addressing disasters through policies and practice: Saudi Arabia appears to be particularly active in this respect, and Turkmenistan is rather inactive.

References

Alraga, S. (2017). Journal of Hospital & Medical Management, 3(2), 1-14. Web.

Alzahrani, F., & Yiannis, K. (2017). BMJ Open, 7(4), e013563. Web.

Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. (n.d.). EM-DAT: The Emergency Events Database. Web.

Findley, P., Isralowitz, R., & Reznik, A. (2014). Journal of Emergency Management, 12(3), 229-235. Web.

Friis, R. (2017). Epidemiology 101. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Tambo, E., Fouad, A., & Khater, E. (2017). International Journal of Emergency Management, 13(3), 288. Web.

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. (2015). Web.

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. (n.d.a). Web.

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. (n.d.b). Web.

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. (n.d.c). Web.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (n.d.). Turkmenistan. Web.

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