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Publications and Reports

Flooding: Managing Health Risks in the WHO European Region


Looking back at the last 20 years, flood events in 49 countries in the WHO European Region have caused more than 2000 deaths and other health effects. Loss of property, damage to health facilities, displacement of people and enormous economic costs (estimated at around 70 billion EURO) have occurred.

Existing gaps in the prevention of health effects of floods, and the availability of timely flood–health response strategies or established action plans were assessed via a survey of WHO European Member States. Especially the potential effects of a changing climate (e.g. more frequent extreme precipitation events) shall be considered.

The survey identified that especially cross-sectoral coordination is crucial in preventing deaths, injuries, disease and other health consequences. The report suggests a range of measures to protect the population health care in the four phases of flood events, namely prevention, preparedness, response and recovery (PPRR). An example is the critical linkages between flood management, water resource management, public health, climate change and disaster risk reduction (DRR) are currently ill-defined and remain compartmentalized. There is a need to fill the knowledge gap of public health vulnerabilities in existing flood management practices, and to integrate health before, during and after the flood event. Integrated flood management supports this discourse and facilitates flood planning, preparedness, response and recovery activities to reduce environmental health hazards and protect human well-being.

In general, approaches to manage the health risks of floods should be based on the common policies, plans and measures for all types of hazards (multi-hazard approach), before addressing the specific issues associated with flood events.

Reference information

WHO Regional Office for Europe

Published in Climate-ADAPT Mar 23 2018   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Dec 12 2023

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