Monday, September 15, 2014

The Social Determinants of Vulnerability Framework: Incorporating the Needs of People into Mitigation, Response, and Recovery

If there were a candidate for the U.S. response to Ebola czar....

Ms. Atyia Martin writings on her PhD, Doctor of Law and Policy Research.

S. Atyia Martin     S. Atyia Martin
Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness
Thank you very much for taking the time to look at my research. I would also like to thank you for your work in supporting household preparedness. I completely agree that we all have a personally responsibility to prepare for emergencies: households, organizations, and government. The reality we face is that everyone in our communities does not have the ability to prepare in the way many of us who work in emergency management expect them to. Nor are people receiving the information in a way that is 'accessible' in the broadest sense of the word (disabilities, language, literacy, etc.).

My hope is that those involved in emergency management use this information to hone their outreach to those who need information and support most and that emergency plans are developed based on the actual needs of people living in their jurisdictions. Ultimately, I would like to see a higher level of community engagement on these issues by local government to better understand people's needs. Local government provides services that are meant to serve its constituents. Just as business do, local government better understand their markets so they can deliver relevant, meaningful products and services.

The interesting thing about Hurricane Katrina is that 33% of the population did not receive the message about evacuation or they did not receive enough information to take any action. This is not because they had a lack of preparedness, but because emergency managers did not consider the makeup of the population during their planning for how emergency information is disseminated to the community. There is also the reality of limited resources that prevented some from being able to do what was being asked of them. No amount of individual preparedness would have helped socially isolated people with disabilities, older adults, and those with medical illnesses who were reliant upon external services that were no longer available.

My point is that preparedness is a shared responsibility and our society is more complex than we oftentimes consider in emergency planning. Developing inclusive approaches and plans is not easy, but nothing worth achieving is.

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“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” ― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

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