Concepts of the Public Health – Health System Example

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"Concepts of the Public Health" is a perfect example of a paper on the health system. The  role of public health professionals in  the Somali War  There is a continual rise in the number of disasters and issues affecting  the larger human society.   Some of these disasters are  complex humanitarian emergencies  and this  calls for the cooperation between various  organizations and  national departments for example the military,   public health, social services among others.   The term complex humanitarian  emergency refers to  a disaster  or a  situation that  affects a large civilian population through a combination of  international war, civil war, or a gross attempt to restructure the  society or  the  state.     The war in Somali is one of the current  complex humanitarian emergencies.   This war  started in 2006 and since then, it  has  seen the death and displacement of many people.   A report released by the Elman Peace and Human Rights  Organization  indicates that by December 2008,  16,120  civilians had been killed and  29,000  wounded.   In 2007, displacements from the town of Mogadishu alone amounted  to 1.9 million  (International Herald Tribune 16).

Most of the people displaced have ended up in Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya  while others have ended up in Ethiopia,   Djibouti,   and  Yemen.   Public  health professionals  have to  respond to the situation in the refugee camps in neighboring countries.   The Daabab  refugee  camps in Kenya  were originally  designed to accommodate 90, 000 people but  the current  population in these camps has  greatly exceeded this number  leading to great  human  congestion.

This congestion in turn exposes the refugees to  security threats as well as health hazards.   These include  high risks of the spread of contagious diseases and the  outbreak  of hygiene-related diseases like cholera.   In some of the cases,   about  300 people share  one toilet  (Kamau  1).     Brennan  and Robin  (148) explain that in such situations,   the role of public health professionals  is to  undertake  appropriate  health interventions aimed at disease prevention  and the promotion of health.   These interventions aimed at disease prevention should encompass those that preventing outbreaks as well as  those that prevent the spread of contagious diseases.   These professionals can achieve this either by offering direct services to the people, for example, conducting regular immunization programs against  contagious  diseases like polio  and Hepatitis B,   and  treating  sick patients.     Few toilets encourage careless  human  defecation hence the public health professionals should increase the number of toilets.

This will reduce the risk of disease outbreaks.   Hand wash taps should be constructed next to these toilets to encourage hygiene  and where possible, hand wash sops should be provided.   Gillam  (121) advises that  public health professionals should also carry out medical screening persons coming into the camps to reduce the possibilities of the spread of contagious diseases.

All sick persons should be referred to the available health facilities.     They should also ensure the refugees get safe drinking water.   Health professionals  should  also  educate  the people on primary health care tips for example hygiene.   The public health professionals  have to  work with the government and  the refugees to ensure that drainages are created where possible to reduce flooding of the amps during the rainy seasons. Such flooding greatly increases the  risk  of  the outbreak  of water-borne diseases.     A complex humanitarian emergency results in large-scale displacement of human populations or even massive deaths, for example during genocides. At such times, living conditions deteriorate hence the people live under conditions of poor supply of safe drinking water and food, poor sanitation, and shelter.

This makes complex humanitarian emergencies a big  global health challenge. The public health professionals, therefore, have critical roles to play in case of a complex humanitarian emergency given its potential to cause a significant increase in the mortality rates.    


Brennan Richard and Robin Nandy . “Complex humanitarian emergencies: a major global health challenge.” Emerg Med (Fremantle). (2) pp 147-156. 2001.

Gillam Stephen, Yates Jan and Badrinath Padmanabhan. Essential Public Health. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. 2007.

International Herald Tribune (2009). “Somalia conflict kills more than 2,100 this year.” Online: Retrieved on 20th July, 2011.

Kamau Rose (2011). “SOMALIA: UN agencies express concern over living conditions in Kenya refugee camps.” Online: Retrieved on 20th July, 2011.

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