JCU leads way in disaster response

Monday, 11 April, 2005

The horror of the terrorist attack on the Russian school children of Besian last year has given Australia's first post-graduate course in disaster health management a tragic focus, Associate Professor Peter Leggat said recently.

Prof Leggat, the academic coordinator of the course, is Associate Professor and Academic Adviser Public Health at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at James Cook University.

The two-week block course is being offered by JCU's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in cooperation with leading disaster health experts from relevant areas, including health departments and defence.

More than 30 doctors, nurses and managerial staff are participating in the first course, which covers the A to Z of disaster health management, including dealing with areas such as terrorism as well as natural, industrial and other disasters.

"It was developed in the light of the impact of terrorist events such as the World Trade Centre and Bali bombings; but these are only a small but visible fraction of worldwide disasters," Prof Leggat said. "More than 2.1 billion people globally were affected by disasters in the last decade with more than 750,000 deaths. "We believed that to ensure an adequate health response to disasters, a formal and structured approach to disaster health education and training was required. "The course will be an annual event and has attracted widespread interest from health professionals and agencies involved in disaster health management," Prof Leggat said.

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