Working with minority communities to prepare for disasters

Nicole Lurie, M.D., M.S.P.H.
Photo: U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response was created shortly after Hurricane Katrina. The office, which is part of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, leads the nation in preventing, preparing for and responding to the health effects of public health emergencies. Among its charges is to make sure underserved communities are ready for disasters.

In our new Get Ready Report podcast, we spoke with Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, assistant secretary for preparedness and response, about why emergency preparedness is important for racial and ethnic minority populations. A report to Congress showed that Hurricane Katrina in 2005 had its greatest impact on communities where low-income minorities lived. People who are less educated, have low incomes and live in substandard housing often suffer more in disasters, “and those populations are, more often than not, likely to be racial and ethnic minority populations,” Lurie told the Get Ready campaign. Sometimes there are language or cultural barriers in a community, which can hinder preparedness and response.

“By the same token, minority populations are often more resilient than other populations,” Lurie said. “There are often very close social connections and ties in a community and those social connections are one of the most important things to promote community resilience and personal resilience.” Preparing and responding quickly to disasters can save lives and make the U.S. a healthier nation. Disasters such as the Joplin, Missouri, tornado of 2011 or Hurricane Sandy in 2012 showed the need to make sure communities are resilient, she said. That includes constructing buildings that won’t fall down and people can exercise in, giving people access to fresh food and making sure people can walk around their neighborhoods safely.

Listen to Get Ready’s podcast with Lurie to hear more about emergency preparedness or read the transcript.

Subscribe to receive free email updates:

0 Response to "Working with minority communities to prepare for disasters"

Post a Comment

How to have fun and avoid Halloween hazards

The spookiest time of the year is right around the corner! Do you know what’s even more frightening than ghosts and monsters? Being unprepar...