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Medical Requirements During a Natural Disaster: A Case Study on WhatsApp Chats Among Medical Personnel During the 2015 Nepal Earthquake

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2017

Moumita Basu*
Affiliation:
Department of Computer Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur, and Social Informatics Research Group, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, India
Saptarshi Ghosh
Affiliation:
Department of Computer Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur, and Department of Computer Science and Enginnering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India
Arnab Jana
Affiliation:
Centre for Urban Science &Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India
Somprakash Bandyopadhyay
Affiliation:
Social Informatics Research Group, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, India
Ravikant Singh
Affiliation:
Doctors For You, Mumbai, India
*
Correspondence and reprint requests to Moumita Basu, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta Joka, Diamond Harbour Road, Kolkata 700104, India (e-mail: moumitabasu0979@gmail.com).

Abstract

Objective

The objective of this study was to explore a log of WhatsApp messages exchanged among members of the health care group Doctors For You (DFY) while they were providing medical relief in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake in April 2015. Our motivation was to identify medical resource requirements during a disaster in order to help government agencies and other responding organizations to be better prepared in any upcoming disaster.

Methods

A large set of WhatsApp (WhatsApp Inc, Mountain View, CA) messages exchanged among DFY members during the Nepal earthquake was collected and analyzed to identify the medical resource requirements during different phases of relief operations.

Results

The study revealed detailed phase-wise requirements for various types of medical resources, including medicines, medical equipment, and medical personnel. The data also reflected some of the problems faced by the medical relief workers in the earthquake-affected region.

Conclusions

The insights from this study may help not only the Nepalese government, but also authorities in other earthquake-prone regions of the world to better prepare for similar disasters in the future. Moreover, real-time analysis of such online data during a disaster would aid decision-makers in dynamically formulating resource-mapping strategies. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2017;11:652–655).

Type
Brief Reports
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2017 

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References

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