J Reid*, H Sopheab, DD Saulnier, J v Schreeb
Floods are the most common type of natural disaster worldwide and are projected to become more frequent and more extreme. Cambodia is prone to annual, seasonal flooding. Floods impact health in many ways and can disrupt the health system through destruction of infrastructure and loss or diversion of human, economic and physical resources. Through knowledge acquisition and skills development, training of healthcare professionals can lead to a more effective flood response. Globally, there is a need for more and improved disaster management training for healthcare professionals. Little is known about the current challenges faced by healthcare professionals when working during floods or the gaps and barriers that exist in providing flood management training in Cambodia. This pilot study sought to describe the challenges faced by healthcare professionals and increase understanding of flood management from the perspectives of key training stakeholders in Cambodia.
Two qualitative methods were used; rapid assessment methodologies during a national workshop attended by 44 health professionals and semi-structured interviews with six key training stakeholders. Data from the workshop was analysed descriptively and thematic content analysis was used for the interviews.
The challenges when working during a flood include a lack of physical and human resources. Challenges are mainly operational, relating to planning, preparation and resource use, and communication between healthcare professionals. Gaps in current flood management training include teaching non-technical skills and providing sustainable training. Barriers include a lack of resources and competing interests from external funders and stakeholders.
The findings of this study offer better understanding into flood management and may help to inform future disaster management curriculums inside and outside of Cambodia. Recommendations for future flood management training in Cambodia include increasing the number and capacity of trainers, harmonizing the involvement of all those involved in training provision and recognising the potential implications of external funders. Recommendations for further research include understanding how informal knowledge sharing processes can contribute to flood management training, particularly in a resource stretched setting, and how best to incorporate essential non-technical skills into training.