BACKGROUND: Over the past decade, the magnitude and intensity of disasters have been vividly rising globally due to the forces of nature or man. This study aimed at assessing the perceived knowledge, experiences and training needs of health professionals regarding disasters, their prevention and management in Jimma Zone, Southwest Ethiopia.
METHODS: An institution based cross-sectional survey was conducted on 377 health professionals taken from 9 randomly selected districts out of 18. All health professionals working at health offices, hospitals and health centers were included. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire which was developed by the investigators after reviewing the relevant literature in the field. Data were coded and entered into SPSS 20 software for cleaning and analysis. Descriptive and logistic regression analyses were done.
RESULTS: The majority (85.1%) of the participants were able to define the concept of disaster from various perspectives; 9.7% did not know about it at all and 5.2% could describe the concept partially or misconceived it. The majority (84.3%) agreed that disaster has direct public health consequences on humans. The main public health consequence of disaster the participants mentioned was environmental pollution (65.8%). Malaria, measles and diarrhoeal diseases accounted for 35.5%, 33.1% and 10.5% of the epidemics, respectively. Only 20.6% of the respondents were trained on disaster related topics in the last two years. The majority felt that they had poor knowledge on early warning indicators of drought (48.0%) and flood (48.0%). Simialry, 50.8%, 47.7%, 51.1% and 42.6% of the participants had poor knowledge on preparedness to drought, preparedness to flood, response to drought, response to flood. On composite scale, they generally perceived to have adequate (29.4%), moderate (32.4%) and poor (38.2%) knowledge about early warning information bout, preparedness for and response to common disasters. A vast majority (92.8%) reported that they need training on disaster preparedness, management and response.
CONCLUSION: A considerable number of professionals had limited understanding about the concept of disaster and response to certain specific disasters. They also had limited opportunities for training, despite their felt needs. Therefore, training should be provided focusing on the specific gaps identified.
- health professionals
- training needs