Quakes' health effects being studied
The effect of the Canterbury earthquakes on residents' health is being studied as part of a project aimed at improving how health services respond to natural disasters.
One of the key questions researchers from the University of Canterbury want to answer is whether people living in the red-zoned areas of Christchurch have suffered more health problems than other city residents, or whether everyone has been affected equally, because the uncertainty associated with the events is citywide.
"Since September 4, 2010, the quality of life for residents of the greater Christchurch area has been severely impacted. It is not yet known, however, what the links are between stress-related health outcomes and the level of neighbourhood damage," said lead researcher Professor Simon Kingham, director of the GeoHealth Laboratory at the University of Canterbury.
"In finding answers and understanding these relationships, we will be able to calculate the optimal targeting of health services following a natural disaster."
Christchurch Hospital emergency department head and professor of emergency medicine Mike Ardagh supports the research, which is being funded through the Co-operative Research Centre for Spatial Information.
"We don't understand the drivers of health demand following earthquakes, but suspect that vulnerable communities will be more affected.
"This research will help us target the provision of health care better in the future," said Ardagh.
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