There has been a significant increase of natural hazards with a clear negative impact on vulnerable groups. The breadth and severity of health consequences are not confined to the disaster period and its immediate aftermath. The aim of this study is to explore the association of morbidity and physical incapacity of vulnerable age groups (children and elderly) with exposure to natural hazards in Mexico, focusing on adverse effects that extend for up to five years. Data from the Mexican Survey on the Evaluation of Urban Households were used to explore associations of self-reported morbidity and physical incapacity in relation to a range of potential health determinants, using zero-inflated binomial models. Children and the elderly are disproportionately were found to be affected by the morbidity and physical incapacity impacts of natural hazards, when compared with non-elderly adults in the population. The increased impacts in terms of morbidity were 44% for elderly and 22% for children; for physical incapacity, the respective increases are 56% for elderly and 13% for children. The effectiveness of health and social programmes to reduce the impact of natural hazards is likely to be enhanced by targeting vulnerable groups in the population, such as children and the elderly. Post-disaster programmes that incorporate the determinants of health and seek to enhance long-term disaster restoration planning that builds community capacity and reduces vulnerability to future disasters would be likely to deliver the greatest dividends in reduced morbidity and physical incapacity for children and elderly.
- Health impact
- natural disasters