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Community support needs higher priority in disaster relief

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e2920 (Published 23 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2920
  1. Matthew Limb
  1. 1London

Humanitarian responses to wars and natural disasters should include more social support for communities alongside medical aid, the inaugural World Extreme Medicine Conference has heard.

Richard Williams, lead officer for disaster management at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said that the delivery of psychosocial care to victims of major incidents was “neglected.”

He said that communities suffering mass trauma needed urgent help to boost the “recovery environment” as well as treatment and protection from diseases.

Medical aid organisations were apt to get carried away with “big things like infections” and to forget they needed a vehicle for delivering their interventions, he said.

Williams told the conference, “The first thing you should do, after you have got water, …

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