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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 105-110

The spectrum of health hazards by a volcanic eruption and the need for an integrated approach to mental health and disaster preparedness

1 Department of Trauma, Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, Level III IFH MONUSCO, Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo
2 Department of Psychiatry, Level III Hospital, Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Shibu Sasidharan
Department of Anaesthesia and Critical Care, Level III IFH MONUSCO, Goma
Democratic Republic of the Congo
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JME.JME_91_21

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Mt. Nyiragongo in Goma, DR Congo, exploded on 22 May 2022. In the Philippines, on 1 July 2021, the Taal volcano, considered a restive volcano, spewed a 0.62 mile-high plume of gas and steam into the air, cascading a mass evacuation. Without any prior warning, Goma and central Manila were in a state of emergency, not knowing what to expect and how to react. Volcanoes provide a conduit by which magma – the earth's molten rock, gases and water – may interact with human biological systems. The importance of effective pre-disaster planning cannot be over-emphasised in such situations. The article dwells on the volcanic phenomena, which can cause many health hazards during the eruption and in between eruptions. The vast majority of volcanogenic fatalities in the past few centuries have resulted from events at the proximity – such as pyroclastic density currents, lahars and suffocation or building/roof collapse from ash or debris – and also distal events, such as tsunamis, which may travel for hundreds of miles from the active site, and indirect consequences of eruptions, such as famine or infectious disease outbreaks, including podoconiosis, fluorosis, geophagy, iodine deficiency disorders and rift valley fever. Although technology and geology can give a better lead time, predicting natural hazards and formulating, a plan in advance will obviously be very helpful for public health professionals. This paper is intended for health-care workers to understand the health problems faced due to a volcanic eruption, and this understanding, along with the recommendations given, will enable them to plan and prepare for the management of relief, rescue and medical care.

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