UN-SPIDER Newsletter April 2009


UN-SPIDER senior expert Dr. Joerg Szarzynski attended the 16th World Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 11-15 May 2009, and presented a paper within the session: ‘Communication and Information’. The abstract of the UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER presentation was published within the journal: Prehospital and Disaster Medicine.
About 600 delegates from 60 countries came together at Victoria Conference Centre to attend the 16th World Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine, a biannual event convened by the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM). The Congress was devoted to equipping health professionals to prepare for and respond to disasters and health emergencies around the world. It is known as the premier event for the discussion of disaster and emergency health.
The conference was formally opened by the Lieutenant Govenor of British Colombia, Honourable Steven L. Point, the mayor of Victoria, Mr. Dean Fortin, and Dr. Samir Ben-Yahmed, Associate Director-General, Health Action in Crisis, World Health Organisation (WHO). Each day of the conference started with initial keynote addresses by high-level speakers such as Dr. David Butler-Jones, Chief Public Health Officer, Public Health Agency of Canada; Prof. Jonathan Patz, IPCC nobel prize laureate, Director of Global Environmental Health, Madison, USA; Dr. Andy Robertson, State Health Coordinator and Director Disaster Management, Western Australia Department of Health; Dr. Debarati Guha-Sapir, Director of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Louvain School of Medicine, Brussels, Belgium; or Dr. Manuel Carballo, Executive Director, International Centre for Migration and Health (ICMH), Geneva, Switzerland.
This conference brought together important key persons from the international health community. The participation of UN-SPIDER and the presentation of UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER activities initialised some new contacts and specifically extended the network building with WADEM and CRED.
The World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM) is an academic, international, humanitarian association dedicated to improving the everyday delivery of prehospital and emergency health care and enhancing disaster health and preparedness. Fostering international collaboration, the organization is inclusive, culturally sensitive, unbiased, ethical, and dynamic in its activities. While individual members are active in field operations, the organization remains non-operational.
The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) promotes research, training, and information dissemination on disasters, with a special focus on public health, epidemiology, structural and socio-economic aspects. It aims to enhance the effectiveness of developing countries' disaster management capabilities as well as fostering policy-oriented research. CRED is WHO collaborating centre. Of special importance is also the EM-DAT: Emergency Event Database which provides methodologically- compiled data on global disater occurrence and impact. The main objective of this database is to serve the purpose of humanitarian action at national and international levels. It is an initiative aimed to rationalise decision making for disaster prepardness, as well as providing an objective base for vulnerability assessment and priority setting.