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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-6

"Bam Earthquake" Versus "Hurricane Katrina": How Scientific Communities have Responded to these Natural Disasters by Publishing Scholarly Articles


Department of Social Medicine, Occupational Environmental Research Center, Rafsanjan Medical School, Rafsanjan University of Medical Sciences, Rafsanjan, Iran

Date of Web Publication10-Aug-2015

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Mohsen Rezaeian
Department of Social Medicine, Occupational Environmental Research Center, Rafsanjan Medical School, Rafsanjan University of Medical Sciences, Rafsanjan
Iran
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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  Abstract 

Objectives: On December 2003 in Iran, the "Bam earthquake" caused 43,000 people lost. On August 2005 in the United States, "Hurricane Katrina" caused 986 people lost. The aim of the current study was to determine how scientific communities have responded to these natural disasters by documenting the different aspects of them in the format of scientific articles. Methods: The well-known PubMed search engine (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) was searched in June 2014 using "Bam earthquake" and "Hurricane Katrina" as the keywords. In the second round of the search, the Persian Scientific Information Database search engine (http://www.sid.ir/fa/index.asp) was also searched using two previous keywords that were translated into Persian. Results: The first search strategy retrieved 54 articles for "Bam earthquake" and 864 articles for "Hurricane Katrina." The second search strategy retrieved 66 articles for "Bam earthquake" and 0 articles for "Hurricane Katrina." Dividing the total retrieved articles by the number of deaths has revealed that for "Bam earthquake" nearly 0.0028 articles and for "Hurricane Katrina" nearly 0.88 articles per death have been indexed, respectively. Conclusions: The results of the current study have clearly demonstrated that overall there are shortages of scientific studies of "Bam earthquake" in comparison to "Hurricane Katrina."

Keywords: Bam earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, scientific publishing


How to cite this article:
Rezaeian M. "Bam Earthquake" Versus "Hurricane Katrina": How Scientific Communities have Responded to these Natural Disasters by Publishing Scholarly Articles. J Hum Health 2015;1:3-6

How to cite this URL:
Rezaeian M. "Bam Earthquake" Versus "Hurricane Katrina": How Scientific Communities have Responded to these Natural Disasters by Publishing Scholarly Articles. J Hum Health [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Sep 16];1:3-6. Available from: http://www.jhhjournal.org/text.asp?2015/1/1/3/162519


  Introduction Top


On December 2003, a 6.5 Richter scale earthquake totally destroyed Bam, a city which is located in the southeast of Iran. It has been estimated that more than 43,000 and 30,000 people were killed and injured, respectively. Soon after the earthquake there had been substantial amounts of national and international responses. [1] The magnitude of "Bam earthquake" was so huge that it has been considered as one of the most catastrophic disasters to have hit Iran. [2]

On August 2005, the deadliest hurricane since 1928 that is, Hurricane Katrina struck the US Gulf Coast. The hurricane caused substantial damage to Louisiana and Mississippi residents. In total, 986 Katrina-related deaths were recorded. [3] Further investigation has revealed that "poverty," "high-density housing," "immigrant status," "poor English language proficiency," and "ethnic minorities" all have increased the vulnerability of the populations that were hit by disaster. [4]

It is obvious that the types and damages of these two natural disasters are substantially different from each other and moreover, they have occurred in diverse time and space zones. The chief aim of the present study, however, is to determine how scientific communities have responded to these two natural disasters by documenting the different aspects of them in the format of scientific articles.


  Methods Top


The well-known PubMed search engine (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) was searched in June 2014 using "Bam earthquake" and "Hurricane Katrina" as two keywords. Since no Persian language journal is covered by PubMed and in order to see how Persian language journals have published articles related to "Bam Earthquake" it was necessary to select and search an Iranian national search engine as well.

Therefore, in the second round of the search, Scientific Information Database (SID) search engine (http://www.sid.ir/fa/index.asp) was searched. This well-known Persian search engine covers most Persian language scientific journals in the diverse fields of medicine, basic sciences, art, etc. In June 2014, it provides access to more than 210,000 Persian articles. The only important shortcoming of this search engine is that it allows you to search within title and keywords but not the full text.

As a result in the second round of the search two previous keywords that is, "Bam earthquake" and "Hurricane Katrina" were translated into Persian and then searched separately within title and keywords of the Persian papers that were indexed by SID search engine.

Furthermore, to investigate how scientists have responded to these two natural disasters in terms of their mortality burden, the number of total retrieved articles was divided by the number of deaths resulting by each disaster.


  Results Top


The first search strategy retrieved 54 articles for "Bam earthquake" and 864 articles for "Hurricane Katrina." The second search strategy retrieved 66 articles for "Bam earthquake" and 0 articles for "Hurricane Katrina."

[Table 1] demonstrates the number of retrieved articles for "Bam earthquake" and "Hurricane Katrina" based on the years of publication and the applied search engines. As this table highlight for "Bam earthquake," there was an increasing trend of the publication from 2003 to 2006 and afterward this trend constantly declined. The highest number of publications belong to the year 2006 (i.e., 19) and the lowest to the year 2014 (i.e., 0). For "Hurricane Katrina," there was also an increasing trend of the publication from 2005 to 2007 and afterward this trend constantly declined. The highest number of publications belong to the year 2007 (i.e., 154) and the lowest to the year 2014 (i.e., 16). Statistical analysis has revealed that this trend is significant (P = 0.001).
Table 1: The Number of the Retrieved Articles Based on the Year of Publication and the Applied Search Engines

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In addition, the number of total retrieved articles were divided by the number of deaths that is, 120/43,000 for "Bam earthquake" (nearly 0.0028 articles per death) and 864/986 for "Hurricane Katrina" (nearly 0.88 articles per death).


  Discussion Top


During recent years "Bam earthquake" and "Hurricane Katrina" are among those natural disasters that have received worldwide attention. [5] Although these two natural disasters occurred in diverse time and space zones and have substantially different consequences the results of the current study have also clearly demonstrated that overall there are shortages of scientific studies of "Bam earthquake" in comparison to "Hurricane Katrina." This is an unfortunate fact that not only the developing countries are more prone to natural disasters and their devastating impacts [6] but also the consequences of natural disasters are considerably less studied within developing countries.

Moreover, evidence suggests that even within both developed and developing countries natural disasters strike more poor people as they often live where the land is cheap and prone to natural disasters (e.g. "at the bottom of volcanoes," "on the coast," "in seismically dynamic areas"). [4],[7] This clearly explains why in the 21 st century underprivileged people especially in East Asia and Pacific, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa have two times greater exposure to natural disasters than prosperous people. [8] This fact should not act as an excuse to not scientifically investigate the impacts of natural disasters in poor people especially within developing countries.

However, the evidence further suggests that within developing countries very low budget is allocated for studying health-related phenomena [9],[10] including the consequences of the natural disasters. Even more prosperous developing countries including such as some middle-eastern oil reach countries spend far less on scientific investigations than that of the developed countries. [11]

It is also worth mentioning that within developing countries the quality of existing health-related databases plus health monitoring and surveillance systems are usually weak. [12],[13] If a disaster either natural [14] and/or man-made [15],[16] occurs, there would be also huge disruptions in gathering such low quality data. Furthermore, due to censorship policies even such low quality data might not be readily available for scientific investigations. [17] All these might partially explain why usually there are lower scientific contributions from developing countries in comparison with developed countries. [18]

The other important findings of the present study is that for both "Bam earthquake" and "Hurricane Katrina" it was a very short-term (i.e., 3-4 years) of increasing trend of publications which was followed by a constantly declining trend. Although this trend looks to be expected for studying any natural disasters more emphasis should be in place to study longer term impacts of the catastrophic disasters.

Let us take mental health status after natural disasters as an example. Evidence suggests that due to: "Personal intimidations to life," "loss of loved ones," "possessions loss," "massive demolition," "collapse of social security systems," "breakdown of social structure," etc., natural disasters have a great impact on the mental health status of the affected people. [14] Evidence further suggests that the impacts of catastrophic disasters on mental health status are greater than milder ones [19],[20],[21],[22] and such impacts might be evident years after a natural disaster has occurred. [23] Therefore, this is very unfortunate that 11 years after "Bam earthquake" no English or Persian studies have been indexed.

It is also worth mentioning that although no Persian studies were retrieved regarding "Hurricane Katrina" and this seems to be usual, surely there are good lessons that Iranian emergency care and disaster response might learn from this tragic disaster. Evidence suggests that there are always good lessons that one country might learn by investigating the other country's response to a natural disaster. For example, US emergency care and disaster response have learned good lessons from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. [24]

Therefore, it can be concluded that developing world countries need to establish a comprehensive surveillance system that enables them to congregate necessary information as soon as a disaster happens. In addition, this system should continue to collect the vital information for a long period to permit the scientists to study the longer impacts of a disaster as well. [18],[25]

In addition, more scientific work and documentation should be encouraged in response to catastrophic disasters in developing worlds and surely this needs scientists' and governments' commitment alike. Allocating sufficient budgets and designing well-established methodological studies are vital and international joint collaborations and cooperation should be seriously persuaded. [26],[27]


  Limitation of the Study Top


To sum up it is worth mentioning that within the current study a well-known International search engine (PubMed) and a well-known Iranian search engine (SID) have been investigated. Therefore, it would be possible that by altering the search strategy e.g., by selecting new international search engines such as Scopus (http://www.scopus.com/), etc., and Iranian search engines such as Magiran (http://www.magiran.com/), etc., more articles be retrieved. However, it is rather impossible that retrieving more articles would change the current unbalanced situation.


  Conclusions Top


The results of the current study have clearly demonstrated that overall there are shortages of scientific studies of "Bam earthquake" in comparison to "Hurricane Katrina."

Public health implication of the study

More efforts should be in place to investigate both short and long term consequences of natural disasters especially within developing countries where more natural disasters occur.

Acknowledgment

The author would like to thank Lesley Pocock for her valuable comments on an earlier draft of this article.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Emami MJ, Tavakoli AR, Alemzadeh H, Abdinejad F, Shahcheraghi G, Erfani MA, et al. Strategies in evaluation and management of Bam earthquake victims. Prehosp Disaster Med 2005;20:327-30.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Farhoudian A, Hajebi A, Bahramnejad A, Katz CL. The perspective of psychosocial support a decade after Bam earthquake: Achievements and challenges. Psychiatr Clin North Am 2013;36:385-402.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Brunkard J, Namulanda G, Ratard R. Hurricane Katrina deaths, Louisiana, 2005. Disaster Med Public Health Prep 2008;2:215-23.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Zoraster RM. Vulnerable populations: Hurricane Katrina as a case study. Prehosp Disaster Med 2010;25:74-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Miller AC, Arquilla B. Disasters, women′s health, and conservative society: Working in Pakistan with the Turkish Red Crescent following the South Asian Earthquake. Prehosp Disaster Med 2007;22:269-73.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Rezaeian M. Epidemiological approaches to disasters and emergencies within the Middle East region. Middle East J Emerg Med 2007;7:54-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
McMahon MM. Disasters and poverty. Disaster Manag Response 2007;5:95-7.  Back to cited text no. 7
[PUBMED]    
8.
Kim N. How much more exposed are the poor to natural disasters? Global and regional measurement. Disasters 2012;36:195-211.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Resnik DB. The distribution of biomedical research resources and international justice. Dev World Bioeth 2004;4:42-57.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Lansang MA, Dennis R. Building capacity in health research in the developing world. Bull World Health Organ 2004;82:764-70.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Giles J. Islam and Science: Oil rich, science poor. Nature 2006;444:28.  Back to cited text no. 11
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AbouZahr C, Boerma T. Health information systems: The foundations of public health. Bull World Health Organ 2005;83:578-83.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Nolen LB, Braveman P, Dachs JN, Delgado I, Gakidou E, Moser K, et al. Strengthening health information systems to address health equity challenges. Bull World Health Organ 2005;83:597-603.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Rezaeian M. The association between natural disasters and violence: A systematic review of the literature and a call for more epidemiological studies. J Res Med Sci 2013;18:1103-7.  Back to cited text no. 14
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Rezaeian M. A review on the most important consequences of wars and armed conflicts. Middle East J Bus 2009;4:7-9.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.
Rezaeian M. War epidemiology: An urgent plea. Epidemiology 2015;26:e10-1.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.
Rezaeian M. Challenges of developing countries′ epidemiologists in the 21 st century. Acta Med Iran 2015 (In press).  Back to cited text no. 17
    
18.
Soteriades ES, Falagas ME. A bibliometric analysis in the fields of preventive medicine, occupational and environmental medicine, epidemiology, and public health. BMC Public Health 2006;6:301.  Back to cited text no. 18
    
19.
Kessler RC, Galea S, Jones RT, Parker HA. Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group. Mental illness and suicidality after Hurricane Katrina. Bull World Health Organ 2006;84:930-9.  Back to cited text no. 19
    
20.
Wu HC, Chou P, Chou FH, Su CY, Tsai KY, Ou-Yang WC, et al. Survey of quality of life and related risk factors for a Taiwanese village population 3 years post-earthquake. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2006;40:355-61.  Back to cited text no. 20
    
21.
Goenjian AK, Molina L, Steinberg AM, Fairbanks LA, Alvarez ML, Goenjian HA, et al. Posttraumatic stress and depressive reactions among Nicaraguan adolescents after hurricane Mitch. Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:788-94.  Back to cited text no. 21
    
22.
Armenian HK, Morikawa M, Melkonian AK, Hovanesian AP, Haroutunian N, Saigh PA, et al. Loss as a determinant of PTSD in a cohort of adult survivors of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia: Implications for policy. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2000;102:58-64.  Back to cited text no. 22
    
23.
Chou FH, Wu HC, Chou P, Su CY, Tsai KY, Chao SS, et al. Epidemiologic psychiatric studies on post-disaster impact among Chi-Chi earthquake survivors in Yu-Chi, Taiwan. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2007;61:370-8.  Back to cited text no. 23
    
24.
Parmar P, Arii M, Kayden S. Learning from Japan: Strengthening US emergency care and disaster response. Health Aff (Millwood) 2013;32:2172-8.  Back to cited text no. 24
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25.
Rezaeian M. Epidemiology of suicide after natural disasters: A review on the literature and a methodological framework for future studies. Am J Disaster Med 2008;3:52-6.  Back to cited text no. 25
    
26.
Nchinda TC. Research capacity strengthening in the South. Soc Sci Med 2002;54:1699C-711.  Back to cited text no. 26
    
27.
Chandiwana S, Ornbjerg N. Review of North-South and South-South cooperation and conditions necessary to sustain research capability in developing countries. J Health Popul Nutr 2003;21:288-97.  Back to cited text no. 27
    



 
 
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