The management of nutrition in major emergencies
Recent years have seen a significant rise in the incidence of both natural and manmande emergencies and a concomitant increase in the numbers of stricken communities, refugees, and displaced persons. While sickness and homelessness are perhaps the most visible problems for affected populations, malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are both common and frequently serious. Food shortages may be the primary feature of an emergency, as in droughts or floods that lead to famine, or may be consequence of war, economic disaster, or mass displacement. The nutritional problems that inevitably follow such shortages add greatly to the burden of disease and mortality, slow the process of socioeconomic recovery, and make intense demands on scarce resources.
This manual aims to improve understanding of the nutritional implications of an emergency situation and of the need to include nutrition in plans for emergency preparedness. It defines the nutritional needs of the individuals in emergency situations and offers a comprehensive overview of the major nutritional deficiency diseases and micronutrient deficiencies likely to be encountered in such circumstances. Methods for assessment and surveillance of the nutritional status of the population are provided, including analysis and interpretation of data and reporting of results. The indicators for, and organization and monitoring of, both general and selective feeding programmes for nutritional relief are described in detail, and the book also contains a chapter on the prevention, treatment, and control of the communicable diseases that are common in emergencies.
It is beyond the scope of the book to provide a detailed treatment of food security, emergency preparedness, or rehabilitation. Its intention is rather to promote effective, coordinated action among professionals in health and related sectors who are concerned with the management of any emergency with a nutritional component.