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Searching for the link between earthquakes and health
Tuesday 5 June 2012, 2:16PM
By University of Canterbury


The impact the recent Christchurch earthquakes has had on people’s health in different parts of the city is being undertaken by researchers at the University of Canterbury.

The research is part of an initiative to support the health sector with improved service delivery following natural disasters.

Funded through the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI), the research will investigate if people living in red zoned areas of town are suffering more health problems than those in other areas or if they are all equally affected due to the city-wide uncertainty of not knowing what will happen next.

Director of the GeoHealth Laboratory at the University of Canterbury and Professor of Gepgrapht, Simon Kingham, said geographical information systems will be used to estimate exposure to physical damage and community disruption, and spatial statistical methods will be developed on a neighbourhood level rather than city-wide scale.

“Since September 2010, the quality of life for residents of the greater Christchurch area has been severely impacted. It is not yet known, however, what the links are between stress-related health outcomes and the level of neighbourhood damage. 

“In finding answers and understanding these relationships, we will be able to calculate the optimal targeting of health services following natural disasters,” he said.

Head of the Emergency Department at Christchurch Hospital and Professor of Emergency Medicine and, Mike Ardagh, supports the research.

"We don't understand the drivers of health demand following earthquakes, but suspect that vulnerable communities will be more affected. This research will help us target the provision of health care better in the future."

Director of CRCSI New Zealand at Land Information New Zealand, Mary Sue Severn, said it was a very exciting time for New Zealand members of the CRCSI with this, along with two other proposals, being funded.

”There has been two years of solid effort put in by many people to identify some priority areas of research and turn them into proposals and, happily, to get them across the line.”

About the CRCSI

The Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (“CRCSI”) is a joint venture of more than 100 government, academic and private sector organisations collaborating to solve complex problems of national significance involving spatial technologies and spatial information. It conducts user-led research and development that delivers structural, economic and social benefits to its partners and the wider community. New Zealand participants include: Land Information New Zealand, the University of Canterbury, Critchlow Ltd, e-Spatial Ltd, Geosmart Ltd, GHD, Sinclair Knight Merz, Trimble We-Do-IT and ZNO Ltd. More information can be found at: INDEX