Environmental health in emergencies


Events of potential public health concern can happen anywhere, and at any time. Depending upon their importance and the way they are being managed by the authorities, such events can affect a significant number of people and thus become larger-scale emergencies.

Buildings destroyed by the tsunami

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, some 6000 disasters killed nearly one million people between 1995 and 2004. This figure does not take into account deaths from disease epidemics following the disasters. A further 2.5 billion people were affected, requiring basic survival needs such as food, water, shelter, sanitation facilities and immediate medical assistance. Damages amounted to US$ 0.7 trillion, including damages to health infrastructure, water supply and sanitation systems. Although technological disasters accounted for 46% of all events, natural disasters were responsible for most casualties

List of events

Other WHO programmes active in emergencies