Aid after disasters
Mark van Ommeren and colleagues argue that aid after disasters needs a long term public mental health perspective
The crisis caused by the recent earthquake and tsunami in South East Asia elicited an unprecedented aid response by humanitarian agencies financed by numerous governments and private citizens. With communicable disease more or less under control, aid agencies now focus increasingly on the mental suffering of surviving populations. We estimate here the likely mental health and psychosocial support needs of those affected and provide a public health framework for long term assistance.
Although no reliable data exist on numbers of people with problems related to mental health in countries affected by the tsunami, the estimated rates described in the table give a rough picture at the population level of what may be expected. Observed prevalence rates will vary with case definition, method of assessment, time since the disaster, and community. Across and within countries, communities differ in current and previous disaster exposure and in sociocultural factors that may influence social