Pakistan has been facing various disasters, natural or otherwise causing colossal losses of lives & property. Raging from earthquakes, floods, heavy rain falls, buildings collapses, locust attacks and epidemics are mishaps & calamities. The country already heavily debt ridden has been undergoing various adversities. Developed countries who have better various disaster management systems face the odds ensuring minimum losses much due to better managing systems. This is why developed countries tackle disasters more effectively with minimum losses & damage.

Major disasters Pakistan has been facing are floods, heavy rains, earthquakes & buildings collapse. Unfortunately the government agencies hardly face disasters handling without following essential measures;

(i) Planning to handle possible disasters.

(ii) Resources provisions including financial and workforce,

(iii) Crews training advanced warning system for the general public or the concerned sections to be effected. In the case of buildings collapse, regular inspections of old buildings by municipal &other civil agencies.

(iv) Standards for infrastructure need to be improved & regular checks for implementation of precautionary measures are imperative.

Disaster, as defined by the United Nations, is a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or society, which involves widespread human, material, economic or environmental impacts that exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources. Disaster management is how we deal with the human, material, economic or environmental impacts of said disaster, it is the process of how we “prepare for, respond to and learn from the effects of major failures”. Though often caused by nature, disasters can have human origins. According to the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies a disaster occurs when a hazard impacts on vulnerable people. The combination of hazards, vulnerability and inability to reduce the potential negative consequences of risk results in disaster.

Man-Made Disasters

Man-Made Disasters as viewed by the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies are events that are caused by humans which occur in or close to human settlements often caused as a results of Environmental or Technological Emergencies. This can include:

• Deteriorated Buildings Collapses

• Environmental Degradation

• Pollution

• Accidents (e.g. Industrial, Technological and Transport usually involving the production, use or transport of hazardous materials)

Complex Emergencies

Some disasters can result from multiple hazards, or, more often, to a complex combination of both natural and man-made causes which involve a break-down of authority, looting and attacks on strategic installations, including conflict situations and war. These can include:

• Food Insecurity

• Epidemics

• Armed Conflicts

• Displaced Populations

According to ICRC these Complex Emergencies are typically characterized by:

• Extensive Violence.

• Displacements of Populations.

• Loss of Life.

• Widespread Damage to both Societies and Economies.

• Need for Large-scale, Humanitarian Assistance across Multiple Agencies.

• Political and Military Constraints which impact or prevent Humanitarian Assistance.

• Increased Security Risks for Humanitarian Relief Workers.

The International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies defines disaster management as the organization and management of resources and responsibilities for dealing with all the humanitarian aspects of emergencies, in particular preparedness, response and recovery in order to lessen the impact of disasters.

Disaster Preparedness

“The knowledge and capacities developed by governments, professional response and recovery organizations, communities and individuals to effectively anticipate, respond to, and recover from, the impacts of likely, imminent or current hazard events or conditions”. According to ICRC, Disaster Preparedness refers to measures taken to prepare for and reduce the effects of disasters, be they natural or man-made. This is achieved through research and planning in order to try to predict areas or regions that may be at risk of disaster and where possible prevent these from occurring and/or reduce the impact those disasters on the vulnerable populations that may be affected so they can effectively cope. Disaster preparedness activities embedded with risk reduction measures can prevent disaster situations and also result in saving maximum lives and livelihoods during any disaster situation, enabling the affected population to get back to normalcy within a short time period.

Minimization of loss of life and damage to property through facilitation of effective disaster response and rehabilitation services when required. Preparedness is the main way of reducing the impact of disasters. Community-based preparedness and management should be a high priority in physical therapy practice management.

Pandemic (from Greek πᾶν pan “all” and δῆμος demos “people”) is an epidemic of infectious disease that has spread across a large region, which can occur to the human population or animal population and may affect health and disrupt services leading to economic and social costs. COVID-19 is a current example of global Disaster effecting Pakistan also. It may be an unusual or unexpected increase in the number of cases of an infectious disease which already exists in a certain region or population or can also refer to the appearance of a significant number of cases of an infectious disease in a region or population that is usually free from that disease. Pandemic Emergencies may occur as a consequence of natural or man-made disasters which can be handled & controlled only with implementation of effective management systems.

—The writer is former Adviser Federal Inspection Commission Govt of Pakistan and currently Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry Standing Committee Chairman.