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ICC Sydney

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Rehabilitation in disasters and complex humanitarian emergencies: lesson learned and challenges

Session outline

Disasters and complex humanitarian emergencies (e.g., wars/conflicts), confronting the world have posed major challenges to providing effective healthcare. These healthcare emergencies may result in significant loss of life and long-term disability from severe injuries including spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), limb amputation, fracture, peripheral nerve injury, crush injury, and psychological impairment.  It creates a large socioeconomic burden with a significant impact on healthcare costs, social infrastructure, and the environment. Current data shows a significant increase in the number of injuries sustained relative to mortality, indicating that medical rehabilitation is integral to comprehensive disaster/emergency management. Despite the improvements in international and regional collaboration; and management capacities \in recent years, many countries and regions, particularly developing countries, are still largely unprepared for their response to humanitarian catastrophes.  There are still major disparities and gaps among the countries, specifically from rehabilitation perspectives, and in vulnerable populations (refugees, landmines and war victims, persons with disabilities, etc.)

This workshop/scientific session will highlight the medical needs of victims of disaster and humanitarian emergencies, the potential challenges, and gaps in healthcare from the rehabilitation aspect. Personal experiences, challenges and viewpoints from the experts will be presented. Further, issues in rehabilitation responses during humanitarian calamities faced by vulnerable population cohorts will be discussed such as operational and organisational challenges, strategic collaboration, etc. A need for strong leadership and effective action from national and international bodies for comprehensive rehabilitation-inclusive medical care for this population will be discussed.

Learning outcomes

The audience will learn about the good clinical practices and lessons learned in the various disasters and humanitarian emergencies. The workshop will help participants advance their understanding of the integral role of rehabilitation professionals and the diverse challenges they face in such settings will be elaborated.

Target audience

  • Medical practitioners
  • Academics
  • Allied health
  • Students
  • Trainees
  • Nursing staff
  • General public 


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