This is the first timeline study monitoring the health impacts of flooding following a flood event between 1994-2005.

Research published in the British Medical Journal has found that people impacted by floods are at increased risk of dying from natural causes, especially cardiovascular and respiratory problems, which peak around 25 days post-flood and can last up to 60 days after the event. Scientists at Monash University in Australia have conducted a decade-long study of 761 communities from 34 countries, including the UK, that had experienced at least one flood event during the decade from 2000-2019. Notably, findings from the UK were consistently out of line with the majority, showing a 10% reduction in risk of all-cause mortality in flood areas post-event. Researchers attribute this outlier effect to two possible reasons: deaths not being registered at usual places of residence due to evacuation; or exposure to the flood having raised awareness and attention to personal health and health service provision.

The research indicates a greater need for health services to be aware of and monitor public health in flood-impacted communities and vulnerable groups post-event. The research calls for public health institutions to incorporate this as a public health response and recovery measure to be integrated into emergency plans and policy responses to actively monitor mortality in the 25 days following flood events to facilitate timely interventions. As those susceptible to recurrent flood events are likely to experience cumulative impact and health risks associated with persistent flooding, the researchers argue the greater need to prioritise climate change adaptation, disaster preparedness, early warning and response improvements to reduce avoidable deaths from flooding.

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