Publicatie datum

Monitoring public health following a major firework factory explosion.

Dirkzwager, A.J.E., IJzermans, C.J., Kerssens, J.J. Monitoring public health following a major firework factory explosion. European Journal of Public Health: 2003, 13(4 sup.) 30. Abstract.11th Annual Eupha Meeting 'Globalisation and Health in Europe: Harmonising Public Health Practices'. Rome, Italy, 20-22 November 2003.
Background: In May 2000, a firework factory exploded in a residential area in the Netherlands, resulting in 22 deaths, 947 wounded people, and about 2.000 severely damaged houses. Following the explosion, a largescale monitoring study was implemented to examine disaster-related health consequences of both the residents of the neighbourhood and the rescue workers involved. Aim: The aim of this study is to longitudinally monitor the public health impact of this disaster. Methods: Data are gathered at general practitioners’ (GPs) practices through a standardised reporting procedure, in which the GPs register each contact with their clients in a computerised format. The monitoring provides information about the number of medical consultations and the type of health complaints patients present to their GPs. In addition, information is available on demographic characteristics, and on the degree of exposure to the explosion. Health complaints are coded by the GPs according to the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC). Since the reporting procedure was operational one year prior to the disaster, baseline information is available as well. Results: Prior to the disaster ‘hypertension’ was the most prevalent ICPC code (1.9% of all contacts), in the year after the disaster ‘stress reactions’ was most prevalent (7.1%). The course of several clusters of health problems was also examined. Compared to the period prior to the disaster, the number of psychosocial problems, chronic diseases and gastrointestinal disorders increased significantly after the disaster. Victims who lost their homes reported more health problems than victims living elsewhere in the city. Conclusions: Most research on health consequences following disasters is limited by the lack of information prior to the disaster, and is based on self-reported data. The present study has the significant advantage that baseline data was available, making pre- and post-disaster comparisons possible. The results and potential lessons-learned for future situations will be discussed. (aut.ref.)