Disaster Metrics: A Proposed Quantitative Assessment Tool in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies – The Public Health Impact Severity Scale (PHISS)

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies (CHE) result in rapid degradation of population health and quickly overwhelm indigenous health resources. Numerous governmental, non-governmental, national and international organizations and agencies are involved in the assessment of post-CHE affected populations. To date, there is no entirely quantitative assessment tool conceptualized to measure the public health impact of CHE.

Methods: Essential public health parameters in CHE were identified based on the Sphere Project “Minimum Standards”, and scoring rubrics were proposed based on the prevailing evidence when applicable.

Results: 12 quantitative parameters were identified, representing the four categories of “Minimum Standards for Disaster Response” according to the Sphere Project; health, shelter, food and nutrition, in addition to water and sanitation. The cumulative tool constitutes a quantitative scale, referred to as the Public Health Impact Severity Scale (PHISS), and the score on this scale ranges from a minimum of 0 to a maximum of 100.

Conclusion: Quantitative measurement of the public health impact of CHE is germane to accurate assessment, in order to identify the scale and scope of the critical response required for the relief efforts of the affected populations. PHISS is a new conceptual metric tool, proposed to add an objective quantitative dimension to the post-CHE assessment arsenal. PHISS has not yet been validated, and studies are needed with prospective data collection to test its validity, feasibility and reliability.

Citation: Bayram JD, Kysia R, Kirsch TD. Disaster Metrics: A Proposed Quantitative Assessment Tool in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies – The Public Health Impact Severity Scale (PHISS). PLOS Currents Disasters. 2012 Aug 21. doi: 10.1371/4f7b4bab0d1a3.

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