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Latin American Experience and Responses in Disasters: Person-centered Perspectives

Nelson Raúl Morales Soto

Abstract


Background: Disasters affect people intensely, with people always at the center as victims or as protagonists of the event. The poorest groups suffer the greatest damages, and if the disasters recur, such groups may get trapped into persistent poverty.

Objectives: This work sought to elucidate patterns of Latin American experiences on disasters and responses to them focusing on human elements along the lines of person centered medicine and health (PCM). An effort was made to explore the effects and long-term impact of disasters on health, economy and social life.

Method: The relevant literature was reviewed, especially data from the Pan American Health Organization, the Regional Centre for Emergency and Disaster Documentation, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. Reciprocal relationships between disasters and urban and social vulnerability were examined.

Results: It was noted that people have been always surrounded by natural and man-made threats and that emergencies involving massive destruction have affected populations in relation to multiple causes and sometimes leading to grave social deterioration and precariousness. Indicators of person centered medicine appeared to be present in much of the reviewed Latin American disasters literature.

Discussion: Disasters have social and cultural backgrounds and contexts and represent high economic and social burdens for low-resource countries. Disasters and their impact tend to correlate with social disorganization and deficient status of prevailing health policies. Feelings of helplessness undermine political confidence and threaten governance and development. The Latin American region is beginning to express high interest on PCM and on its implementation, in relation to renewed concern for ethics and human values. The promising value of person-centered educational exercises to enhance disaster preparedness was illustrated.


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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5750/ijpcm.v7i1.623

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