The bioterrorist attacks with „Anthrax“ letters in the US 2001, the SARS epidemic in the year 2003, the occurrence of the bird flu in Asia and their propagation on other regions with the risk of a world-wide pandemic flu brought threats of security to the world´s attention. To minimize the health threats to its citizen’s, immediate protective measures are required, i.e. strategic planning of disaster management is of foremost importance.
The objective of the project therefore was to define clearly defined dangers and then to carry out an inventory-analysis of medical and psychological emergency planning measures in Austria from an institutional, operational and legal perspective. The project focused on nuclear, chemical and biological hazards as well as on health threats and natural hazards. The information gained should identify existing shortages and deficiencies in case of a disaster occurrence. Thereby the project contributes to the assessment of disaster preventing needs and resilience in the health care system and the development of respective measures. .
Results were achieved by literature search, expert interviews and the establishment of different threatening scenarios, e.g. accidents in a nuclear power planet.
The study demonstrates that Austria on the whole is well prepared to manage natural hazards and epidemic risks like pandemics. There are, however areas for improvement: A coherent risk assessment is not implemented. True, some risks like natural hazards are better documented since probabilities of occurrence are well known from historical events. Yet, information on bioterrorist attacks is fragmentary. As a consequence the potential damage of a large-scale event like bioterrorism both on individuals and the critical infrastructure is hard to assess and necessary preventive measures difficult to implement. In conclusion, the establishment of a paramount risk assessment analysis based on the existing attempts of the project, together with a better coordination of the respective authorities were recommended.
Dr. Evelyn Walter (IPF)
Institutes für Pharmaökonomische Forschung (IPF)
Österreichische Agentur für Gesundheit und Ernährungssicherheit (AGES)
Österreichisches Ökologie Institut (ÖI)
Mag. Anamarija Batista (IPF),
Tel.: +43/1/513 20 07-12,