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Public Health and Emergency Medicine group

Head: Prof. Shai Linn, co-chair, Dr. Anat Gesser-Edelsburg, University of Haifa

The Public Health and Emergency Medicine group focusses on information and knowledge related to response in medical emergencies such as natural disasters, accidents with mass casualties, cyber threats to public health, and terrorist and wartime civilian injuries. The group expertise spans the following research areas and the topics listed are an initial list of possibilities: 

  • Innovative solutions and inventions for storing and analyzing medical information which would be resilient in emergencies, for instance using and developing electronic health records and storing them on the cloud.
  • Distribution of information and scientifically sound practical knowledge to government and municipal agencies, health organizations, professionals, decision makers and the public in the preparedness stage. Knowledge will deal with the severity of threats, their implications, priorities for response, cost evaluation and specific ways to answer the challenges. The information would be offered in 5 languages  - Hebrew, English, Arabic, Russian and Amharic.
  • Development of mediums for health and risk communication in times (response stage) of disasters and emergencies. Dissemination of information and receipt of feedback via the internet and mobile device applications including the creation of topic specific homepages and involvement in various social networks (e.g. facebook, linkedin). Youtube is also a potential platform for instruction and messages.
  • Issues of physical and mental health; implications of threats from biological and chemical war or radiation. Examination of both acute and long-term responses and quantification of needs and responses during and after a disastrous event.
  • Development of tools to estimate the economic impact of disasters or emergencies, using economic analyses of health related threats in order to prepare and deliver the necessary response.
  • Collaboration with health and environmental organizations, and the public to provide research-based practical tools and consultations, for adaptation of health and risk communication to different subpopulations, and building trust between the health and environmental bodies, and the public.
  • Development of tools for monitoring both needs during times of disaster, and the efficiency and efficacy of aid that is delivered to affected areas. For example, in some emergencies utilization of  information from drones and existing monitoring stations for  the evaluation of pollution would help target and prioritize specific areas in need of response. 
  • Development of methods for building community resilience, i.e. abilities within the community to prevent, prepare, respond and recover from hazards and minimize negative health impacts, as a protective factor to cope with various extreme scenarios. The community resilience practical research will be community-based, locally and culturally adapted to the Israeli context and conducted jointly with researchers from the Welfare and Social Work group.
  • Policy-oriented research with regard to the national public health response for collapse of infrastructure including water, sewage, electricity, and hazardous materials (together with the Environment, Social Science and Policy groups).
  • Collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the health care system, health funds, and local authorities to analyze real case studies and develop preparation, adaptation and resilience responses.

All research involves dialogue with stakeholders, professionals and decision makers, and engagement of the public at-large. Methodologies include  meta-analyses, quantitative and qualitative research methods.