3.6 Addressing non-communicable diseases


  • Ensure that the health system has some mechanism in place to handle injury and physical trauma.
  • Address mental and psychosocial health needs in the context of the emergency-refer to Chapter 8.4 Psychosocial programming. Support needs to be in place to address psycho-social health issues attributed to the emergency, as well as to support mental health needs existing prior to the emergency.
  • Work with other organisations to identify an authority or agency most capable of handling individuals with chronic disease, and provide support as appropriate to ensure chronic disease is being treated in accordance with standard guidelines.

The health system should be able to prioritise trauma services. It should also be able to triage patients or have a referral system in place for trauma and surgical care if the facilities are unable to cope with these situations. First aid and basic medical care at a minimum should be available within the system to help stabilise individuals. Humanitarian organisations that specialise in medical care (for example, ICRC and MSF) often provide these services in cases where the national or local health system is unable to do so.

Assessments and surveillance should include tracking and determining individuals who suffer from chronic disease. A specific agency should be vested with caring for patients of chronic disease. These individuals should be identified and registered, and provided necessary routine treatments with medications specified on the essential drug list. In some cases, humanitarian agencies have provided assistance by providing medication to the health system to address chronic disease in the aftermath of an emergency.

Emergencies cause significant psychological trauma for the affected populations. Ensuring that people have access to services for support, including cultural and religious events, and that lives resume a sense of normalcy soon after settling, is beneficial to the psychological well-being of the community. Health services also need to be able to address specific mental health issues. For further information on mental and social aspects of emergencies refer to Chapter 8.4 Psychosocial programming.