Disaster conference opens in Beijing

More than 2,000 participants gathered in Beijing, China, for the 17th World Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WCDEM) on 31 May.

The four-day event, organized by the World Association of Disaster and Emergency Medicine and the Chinese Medical Association, aims to share groundbreaking scientific findings for improved disaster response, with more than 500 presenters from 60 different countries.

"It's a long-standing and respected forum, where the latest advances in techniques and scientific findings are discussed," Debarati Guha-Sapir, director of the Collaborating Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) of the World Health Organization, who will be presenting original research on mortality and injury risks from earthquakes, told IRIN.

Earthquakes in Sichuan (2008), Haiti (2010), and Pakistan (2005) revealed knowledge gaps about injury patterns and mortality, according to Guha-Sapir. "Without information it is difficult to conceive effective preparation," she said.