On Demand March 14, 2006
Hurricane Katrina and Policy Development: Effects of the Storm
Broadcast Date: March 14, 2006
The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has presented manifold direct and indirect public health problems such as contaminated water, soil and food; mold problems; hazardous waste and debris hazards; vector infestation; and damage to health infrastructure, residential and commercial buildings, etc. This experience has uncovered the inadequacy of policies in areas such as land-use practices, wetland management, building code, food safety, sanitation and emergency preparedness. For this reason, it is imperative to develop better policies or improve the current ones to guarantee public health security now and in the future.
Toward this end, it is particularly important to increasingly bring precautionary principles to bear on policy development and compliance. An appropriate test would be (1) whether a particular policy is oriented toward a "worse case scenario" regardless of whether a potential situation may be disastrous or not, and (2) whether the policy is adaptive with flexibility in compliance procedures to better respond to situational dynamics. The fact that this type of test is almost absent in policy development and compliance left the affected communities seriously vulnerable. Post-Katrina policy development initiatives should be about precautionary principles and proactive measures.
Kenneth K. Orie, JD, DrCL
Environmental health and public health practitioners, especially policy makers and policy enforcers.
None for this program.
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