2020 Climate and Environment, Health and Social Protection, Humanitarian Assistance Other

Towards Health Systems Resilience To Extreme Weather Events: Managing Health Needs During Floods In Cambodia

Dell Saulnier

Resilient health systems have the capacity to maintain their functions and to change when shocked, enabling them to continue delivering health services, yet there is little evidence about what creates resilience. The contribution of this thesis was to identify capacities that foster health systems resilience, by assessing the effects of flooding on health and the capacity of the public health system to manage health needs during floods in Cambodia.

The report was presented during the webinar How to mitigate disasters: reducing risks, estimating needs and ensuring health system resilience.

Main findings

  • Repeated seasonal and occasional floods had a prolonged effect on new health needs, as visitis to public healthcare facilities increased immediately and up to three months afterwards. The impact on routine health needs was indeterminate.
  •  The public sector appeared to have the capacity to absorb and adapt in order to manage antenatal and childbirth health needs during seasonal and occasional floods. The capacity was aided by the community’s own capacity to absorb, helping to relieve the burden on the health system for managing health needs during floods.
  • Strategies that enhance stability and flexibility in contexts where extreme weather events are perceived as strains rather than shocks may enhance system capacities for resilience.
  • Greater support for the community from the public health system during floods and involvement in decision-making may generate resilience capacities in the community and, in turn, strengthen the health system’s resilience to repeated extreme weather events.

Watch the seminar:

Dell Saulnier defended the dissertation Towards Health Systems Resilience to Extreme Weather Events: Managing health needs during floods in Cambodia in May 2020 at the Department of Global Public Health at Karolinska Institutet. Dell works at The Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and is affiliated with the Centre for Research on Health Care in Disasters at Karolinska Institutet. Her research focuses on global health and the resilience of health systems during disasters.